A Lesson in Longsuffering
Written by Becky Bennett
Ever give your sleeping spouse a slight nudge to make him turn over and breathe a bit more quietly? I have too—but I won’t anymore, now that I know what a real snorer I am myself!
I snore. I confess. I probably wouldn’t know it except that I have children, and children are honest and frank about such things. I’ve known about it for quite a few years now—since our family of four shared a hotel room and my youngest daughter explained why she was so tired the next morning.
What I didn’t know—until very recently—was how very loud I snore and how very long I’ve snored. It was after a trip taken to attend a wedding when, once again, our family was sharing a hotel room. Just how loud do I snore? That’s hard to say, my daughters told me. I was hoping my snoring might really be some ladylike breathing that might pass for snoring, but finally I offered what I thought was a very loud imitation of real snoring. My daughters gave a slight giggle and said, “A bit louder than that.”
Wow! Louder than that! I hoped out loud that my snoring was just due to not sleeping as well in a hotel bed. “No,” my younger daughter replied. “You snore at home too. I can hear it from my bedroom sometimes.”
“Really?! How do you endure that?” I asked my husband.
“People can learn to sleep through lots of things,” Mike replied. “My dad can sleep through the trains that go by his apartment!” His dad’s apartment building is near a railroad crossing—so not only do trains go by through the night, but they have to blow their horns as they approach his street. He paused a moment—“Not that I’m making any comparisons—it’s just not a big deal.”
As our family continued the chat over our waffles and eggs, something new came to light.
“I can’t say I wasn’t warned,” Mike added. “Your roommates told me what I was getting myself into.”
Really?! This was news to me! My college roommates—26 years ago—had told Mike to be prepared! And he had never told me. He had never complained. He had never gently suggested that I (or he) sleep on the couch some night. For almost 26 years, he had been putting up with this!
I was stunned. I’ve always loved my husband—I mean, that’s why we got married! But as I spread the blueberry topping on my waffle, I looked at my man with newfound respect. The Bible has much to say about longsuffering, and here it was in action.
It’s mentioned as a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). We’re told to “walk worthy” of our calling, “with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:1-2). We’re told that love “suffers long and is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4).
Does putting up with snoring seem mundane? Maybe to some. But I can’t help but think that it’s the mundane, small trials of life that demand the most longsuffering. Out of love and care for me, my husband never complained. He didn’t make me feel bad for what I was putting him through—he never called attention to what he was enduring.
That’s longsuffering. And he would add that he really thinks it’s no big deal! He says it really doesn’t bother him.
So should I take advantage of his longsuffering? Now that I know and am aware of my nocturnal habit, should I continue to make my longsuffering husband suffer longer? I think not! At least I hope not. Sometimes all we can do in response to another’s longsuffering is be appreciative. But perhaps there’s something one can do to minimize (or even eliminate?) the suffering.
My loving response to Mike’s longsuffering is to research snoring. It seems there are remedies (short of surgery, which Mike insists is absolutely not necessary) that can help. I just listened to an NPR Morning Edition report on singing exercises that can help some snorers. Equally intriguing is a study that found learning to play and regularly practicing the didgeridoo can help others!
Then again, maybe those “remedies” would just offer Mike opportunity to suffer long during the day too.
In any case, I’m on it. And meanwhile—until I find the ideal remedy or device that can turn this nighttime sawer of logs into a quiet, Proverbs 31-type sleeping companion—I hope to become more longsuffering myself.
Becky Bennett lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her longsuffering husband, Mike, and their daughters whom she can count on to speak the truth—in love.