Forgive me, friends, for my blogging delinquency. I have struggled with my topics. I never know where I should start. In retrospect, I believe I have been tempted to shy away from the embarrassingly ugly parts of me God intends for me to share. I want to put on that mask and present my own version of me. But that is not the real me and that is not who God has called me to share. As I have said before, it is better that I share nothing at all with you rather than present lies as truth. May God forbid it.
So here is a story about the real, ugly me, and how God is working to change me.
We had a wonderful Sunday.
We had a not-so-good weekend.
One Thursday night my husband went to the hospital ER for some sort of digestive problem. It was the sort of problem you just want to END quickly, and after 10 hours of it, he was exhausted, in pain and completely spent. I felt horrible that he had to drive himself to the hospital in the middle of the night, but someone had to stay home with the children. I suppose these are the sacrifices parents must make. Since this story isn’t the point of the blog, I’ll just say he was sick for three more days and spent quite a bit of that time in the hospital. Needless to say, this was not the weekend we had planned.
By Saturday afternoon, I was pretty tired of being alone with the girls. Now I love my girls and I couldn’t dream up two better toddlers or a more fulfilling job for me, but sometimes we all just need a break from the everyday. In retrospect, I also realize that I had not taken my “happy” pill that day. [Another topic for another day.] Perhaps that had something to do with it. But whatever the reason, I found myself unable to rise to the occasion and present a calm, energized and loving demeanor to my precious children.
I yelled. I didn’t curse or insult them or degrade them or anything like that. But I did strain my voice, get in their face and speak with a harsh attitude. The specifics don’t matter. What does matter is that I was wrong. I should not have done it. I am an adult and capable of controlling my actions. I am so sorry. I was sorry even then. Please forgive me Lord, and grant me self-control. Help me to walk in Your Spirit.
I knew I was wrong as I was doing it, so I tried my best to just be quiet instead. In these situations, when you just need a break, in order to avoid doing something wrong that you might regret, experts and experienced moms advise calling a friend or family member to help. But in this situation, I felt like it was something I just had to endure. I shouldn’t call for help because my husband was coming home soon. I should be able to calmly handle my own two children for just another hour or two. Well, I did endure, but only through clenched teeth, gnashing all the way. Not well.
When we awoke the next morning for church, I did NOT feel like getting up and making the effort to go to church. (I needed a break, right?) But miraculously, my husband did. Even more miraculously, I submitted. After rolling over, tossing and turning, and enduring a frustrating internal dialogue, I reluctantly got out of bed and took a shower. I still had a horrible attitude, but at least I was moving myself in the right direction.
Thank You, Lord! Occasionally, I CAN manage to do the right thing – only by God’s grace. And I SO enjoyed church. Of course, God spoke right to me. Our class lesson and the sermon spoke right to my shortcoming, right to my need.
Success = Obedience
Joshua 1:8 – Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
Obedience requires knowing God’s Will and doing it; obeying His Word; yielding to the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23) The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. (Gal. 5:19-21) What was my fruit on Saturday? Where was my obedience? How can I overcome my sinful nature and live yielded to the Spirit?
Somewhere between self-control and fits of rage, I live. I flounder. I waver.
This quote is often in my head when I think on this struggle:
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. - F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Why has this quote survived for years in my brain to continually resurface? It must mean something to me. We keep striving forward toward our God-given destiny, inevitably encountering the obstacle of our past-selves. We make forward progress and we continually encounter our old fleshly nature as it sets up roadblocks in our path.
And there was something else in our class lesson regarding the Fruit of the Spirit:
1 Cor. 13:13 - The greatest of these is love.
(v.4-8) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.
Yikes! Where was my love on Saturday? My love, my self-control, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, protection, perseverance? I certainly need to post these scriptures somewhere I can see them often to remind myself of what Christ saved me for. It certainly wasn’t for raising my voice to my precious children when they are simply acting like children. I have been saved for much more than selfish fits of emotion and frustration. God does not want me to act this way. He has enabled me to do much more. I endeavor to live better. To live my calling. To live in the Spirit. Bear the fruit I was intended to bear.
Forgive me, Lord. Direct me to do much better in the future. Don’t allow me to settle for less. You have never settled for less concerning me.