Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Little Rant

I'm going to bear my soul a bit here... *deep breath.

My parents sent me a birthday card over the weekend.  The following excerpt made me sob uncontrollably for a couple of minutes:

"You are amazing -
stepping out every day
with the grace and love
to do what needs doing.
Even when life asks so much,
you respond with the patience
to see things through."

Their praise means the world to me, and often I feel incredibly humbled, in the good and bad way, when they tell me I'm "delightful."

But that isn't the main reason I cried.

How many of us, as some point or many points, when bitterness and resentment rear their ugly heads, want to throw down the proverbial towel and say, "I'm done.  I refuse.  I won't do it anymore."  We ask ourselves or God or others why should we be held to a certain standard when someone else (usually someone who has wronged us) isn't?  Why should I behave maturely when this person refuses to do so?  Why should I be the responsible, reasonable, peacemaking one when all it gets me is treatment akin to that of a doormat?  What is the point?

What I'm about to say I sometimes don't want to believe, especially at my worst moments.  I want my pity party, I want my way, and I want them NOW.

But the point isn't about catering to my whims.

It's about God displaying His sovereignty in my life.  It's about faith and trust and hope.  It's about me seeing Him do what I think is impossible, despite me or the people around me, and in recognizing it, giving credit to Whom credit is due, and then living with a mindset of gratitude and humility that the Creator of the universe would notice me, let alone love me.

It's about me and my relationship with Christ and not getting distracted by concerning myself with how God chooses to deal with other people.

As a Christian (yep, I said it), I'm called to a higher standard of living - showing compassion, not hate; spreading peace, not strife; praying for my enemy, not plotting against her or him.  Sadly, I epically fail at all of it, most of the time.  *sadface.

Take, for instance, when my husband came home from a five-day trip.  When he walked in the door, one of the first things I said (half kidding) was, "Uh-oh, now my house will get messy again."  I said it three times within five minutes.
Was that really necessary?  No.  Was it kind?  Definitely not.  Yes, I wanted to be praised for my hard work in sweeping, dusting, mopping, and organizing (poor way to express it, right?), but I also wanted to keep it that way, which doesn't happen when you live with someone, married or not.  Regardless, I let it be known in a very pointed and uncharitable way.

As a consequence, my husband felt the barbs and responded in kind, which led to a spat, and then led to anger, despair, and tears (on my part).

Where the hell was the peacekeeping in that?  Where was the love in that?  Where was the "stepping out with grace" and the "responding with patience?"

That is why I cried when I read my card.  I felt ashamed for my failings, for entertaining the bitterness and resentment trying to take root.  But I also felt happy that when I needed it, God provided a message telling me WHY - why I keep acting maturely; why I keep being responsible and reasonable and peace keeping.

Because that is how I want my life characterized; because that is how He wants my life characterized.  Any reaction I have based on love, hope, and faith points to a dependency not on myself (because Carol without God is a very nasty, manipulative person), but on One greater than I.  It keeps in check the behaviors I don't actually want to exhibit, and yet allows me to be me in the best way possible.

So while Carol's nastiness wants to come out and play, especially when I feel the injustice of an action or situation, it doesn't get to, at least not for long.  Part of the challenge of the Christian life is trusting that God has my best interest at heart when no one else does, and especially when I don't (that would be during pity parties when I want to hate people).

Besides, nastiness makes my life more stressful, and we all know stress is BAD. :)


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