Today was <insert inappropriate explative>! I have no idea what caused the chaotic chain of events that unfolded, other than the demons of hell deciding to unleash themselves on me. (I am partly joking about that, but only partly!)
Most of the day I have felt as if a dump truck unloaded right on top of me, and then started to shake to make sure that every last boulder was properly in the pile burying me. I suppose I need to look at where it started, and hopefully take away a valuable lesson so that I; or at the very least someone reading this; can avoid this type of catastrophic failure in the future. I needed information from someone yesterday, and instead of waiting until I saw them to ask in person, I opted to leave a note. Mostly out of fear that I would forget, but I suppose there was an element of laziness involved as well. I attempted to convey a positive spin on the post-it by including a smiley face. (Side note: smiley faces have been overused with the popularity of texting and seem to have lost their impact.) Needless to say, the impersonal note (with the smiley face) did not have the intended effect, and it wound up being received as it’s own dump truck onto the other person. Basically, it was an epic fail in the scheme of communication on my part.
So, when confronted about my lack of consideration, did I choose to: A) Quickly apologize for causing the appearance of being critical; or B) Defend myself instead of taking responsibility. Well, if you chose either of those you would be wrong. I created option “C”. That’s right, don’t go down one of the obvious paths, just create a whole new one. So, I found myself jumping straight into indignation and engaging in a quip that was tearing down someone who is very dear to my heart, all so that I could be right. (At this point in the day, I was hearing the beeping of the dump truck backing up right in front of me.)
While in the midst of my “conversation” that was reminiscent of high school cheerleaders arguing about who does the best split, I heard a very clear voice in my spirit shouting “she’s hurting”. I was desperately trying to reconcile my desire to be vindicated with the equally powerful desire to be obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I wish I could say that I am quicker to respond to God’s agenda than my own, but that is unfortunately not the truth in this situation. I struggled, and even when I chose to pull back from my own desire, I felt myself wanting to burst into a full attack.
“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging waragainst the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” – Romans 7:21-25
I walked away from that situation, but the burning desire within me didn’t dissipate. (Now, the dump truck has begun to raise the bed in preparation of the impending dump.) Thankfully, at that point, my desire to be obedient was greater. I was begging God to release me from the anger and self-justification. Being a woman didn’t help either because I began to cry and couldn’t keep the tears under control. The more people asked if things were ok, the more tears would fall. They were tears of shame and guilt. Whether or not my original intention with the note was malicious, the outcome caused someone else great pain. I understand that there are many other factors involved in the defensive response that my friend had, but it doesn’t release me to simply dust my hands off and claim no responsibility.
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” – Matthew 5:23-24
This scripture doesn’t say “if your brother or sister has something justified against you”, it simply states “something against you”. During my struggle against the flesh, this scripture was filling my thoughts. As soon as I was able to, I went to my sister-in-Christ and hugged her, apologizing for the hurt that I had caused. As she began to weep, her pain washed over me. It was almost unbearable. I held her tighter, praying that the embrace would allow some of her hurt to be released. The reason God instructs us to “go and be reconciled to them” has everything to do with living out the faith we claim to have. When people hurt, they need to know someone else cares. I am ashamed to say that I did not jump on taking care of her immediately like I wish I would have. Instead, I compounded the situation with more hurt and left her and myself feeling crummy the rest of the day. (Now, the entire contents of the dump truck had been dumped on top of me, and unfortunately they didn’t knock me out!)
There were a lot of areas where I didn’t do it right today when given the chance. I’m not perfect, and I am painfully aware of that. Even in this, I haven’t lost my hope. I haven’t forgotten how far I have been brought through the Grace of God. In years past, a day like today would have been ended with a stiff drink, a pack of cigarettes and a seed of bitterness. Instead, today has ended with an honest reflection on my actions and reactions, as well as the ultimate choice to follow Him. Although emotions ran the full gamut and many tears have flowed (including now as I type this), I close my day with my relationship with God stronger. I cannot ask for more.
“It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” – Romans 9:16