Cue the Demanding Foot Tap

It's Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day.

Rome seemingly started it, Chaucer might have romanticized it.

Successful, smart, savvy women ignore it.

Allegedly.

Fine, fine. We'll accept a little, inexpensive token of your affection this Valentine's Day. We all know this is a silly holiday, but nevertheless, we'll accept a small something. Yes, we will.

Um. Where is it? What is it? Certainly, it needn't be too much! But not too little either. Just don't let it be … nothing at all.

And so begins the expectant, tapping foot.

Silent Expectations

This is not a phenomenon exclusive to Valentine's Day. The tapping foot can contaminate a relationship all year round. After we say those beloved "I do's," spouses face a lifetime of coming to terms with this conundrum: "I do want to give you what you want! However, I also do … not always know how."

In the midst of that reality, a tapping foot serves one purpose: it stresses everybody out.

But if you're like me, it's a little hard to knock it off.

The expectant tapping can come in many disguises. For instance, back when I was newly married, I told my husband that I liked a particular inexpensive fake pearl necklace.

Not long after that, ta da! My husband gave me a beautiful red velvet box. Inside?

A pearl necklace. Real pearls.

You can imagine my reaction.

"Um, what the …? These don't look plastic."

They were not.

"These don't look cheap."

They were not.

"How much exactly did you spend on this?" I was hoping he kept the receipt.

I mean, we were poor. Super poor. And my heritage on that subject was tainted. My family had had a history of financial problems that left me terrified about money moving forward. Didn't he know this?

Meanwhile, he just wanted to be kind and generous. And his heritage was very prudent—I could trust that he was not a crazy spender. My bleak reaction was crushing. Didn't I know this?

Tap. Tap. Tap. The deafening silence of our expectations killed the buzz on that gift-giving moment for sure.

It sounds ridiculous because we had dated for years. But getting to know each other takes time. A long time. And the fallout during that process can drive us to great growth! Or it can make us crestfallen, guilt-ridden, blech.

How the whole thing plays out can be colored by whether or not we're willing to release each other from those tap tap tapping expectations.

Waiting for Moses

If anybody gets this, it's God. He understands the pressure of demanding, tapping feet, even from loved ones. Like the Israelites. After the honeymoon of getting out of Egypt was starting to fade.

Moses had gone up a mountain to listen to God talk a looooong time about a tabernacle and an altar and the Ten Commandments and a lot more.

I get that this was important stuff. Absolute reverence should be paid. But come on already. These Exodus chapters read to me like a youth soccer tournament that goes into overtime because our teams keep winning. We're proud, we're amazed, we're thankful! But would somebody please end the agony of this glorious thing?

My point is, if it seemed long to me, it must have felt really long for the waiting Israelites. Aaron was supposed to tell the people that Moses would be back in a bit. But then it began.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

They waited. And waited.

Tap-tap-tapping expectancy.

Where was Moses? What was taking so long?

After a while they'd had it. "We don't know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt," the Israelites said (Exodus 32:1).

Really? Did they think, after all the scenes that had recently played out, that Moses and God would just … leave? It sounds ridiculous because God had just gotten them out of Egypt. And split a sea so they could walk on dry land. And introduced manna, which they'd never seen before. And a lot more.

Their rationale was illogical. That's what can happen with expectant tapping. It can rattle our brains. It's hard to think clearly with all that noise.

And so commenced Plan B.

" ' Come on,' they said, 'make us some gods who can lead us.' ".

Aaron panicked.

He said something akin to "Okay! Grab your gold earrings and start melting, folks!"

Today's craft: a golden calf.

What takes my breath away is this line after Aaron made the golden calf: "O Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of the land of Egypt" (Exodus 32:4).

Um. No. they didn't.

God got you out of Egypt. And Moses carried out the task. Remember? You were there?

And this thing you just built? It. Did. Nothing. It. Can. DO. Nothing.

And P.S.? You should know this better than anybody because YOU JUST BUILT IT FIVE MINUTES AGO.

Results versus Remembrance

A demanding, tapping foot can get us confused. A tapping foot begins to demand the wrong thing. It demands a result, just at a time when the circumstance demands a remembrance.

It's not so different in marriage. Don't get distracted! Pause. Quiet the racket. Remember why you picked your spouse. Remember the reasons you picked each other.

Ideally, the Israelites would have said something like this about God and Moses: "We believe you because we remember you." The wait still would have felt long. But not hopeless. Not pointless.

This Valentine's Day, press in closer to God. Believe that he cares about your relationship. Believe that he would like to show up in your marriage with manna you've never even known before.

Let's release our relationships from that annoying tapping foot.

Meanwhile, I'll wear the pearls.

For better or for worse—happy Valentine's Day!

Janelle Alberts is a freelance writer focused on integrating Bible stories into daily life. She and her loving husband enjoy their two wonderful children most of the time.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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