I will not be memorializing the Memorial Day of 2010. It was a beautiful holiday weekend full of opportunities to enjoy good company and participate in outdoor activities. Saturday was a wonderful family day and on Sunday, we celebrated the fact that Sofija not only got excited about going to church, but she actually behaved herself for the entire service (Thank you, God!). On top of that, I got to squeeze in some great fellowship with friends and bask in some estrogen throughout Sunday afternoon and evening. The actual holiday was a completely different story.
Yesterday started at 5:58am with a slap across my head and screaming in my ear and it spiraled downward from there.
While Sofija did have a pretty bad morning, please don’t start thinking she is the one to blame for our difficult day. Well before noon I stopped counting how many things she had destroyed and how many times she had hurt the people and animals in the house. The incision from her surgery has bothered her and we have had no success in keeping her still so that she can heal. When she does something that strains her abdominal muscles she reacts with rage. I had very little sleep the night before and when she threw things at me and attacked her brothers, I felt myself boiling inside. I screamed. Alot! At everyone. Kira and Chase were being teenagers and trying to stand their ground and I began taking everything that they said as disrespect. When Chad tried to hold me accountable for my screaming, I screamed at him. We all tried to stay busy and to stay out of each other’s way (actually I think everyone was just trying to stay out of my way), but even avoidance didn’t keep me from being irritated by everyone in the house. And NO, I’m not pms’ing.
I made some pretty pitiful apologies throughout the day and went to sleep fairly disgusted with myself. By the time I awoke this morning, the three people that I hurt the most yesterday were already gone to school and work and my conscience wasn’t any clearer than it had been when I fell asleep. To make matters worse, instead of starting my day with my usual routine of prayer and devotion, I let myself wallow in guilt.
Those old church wounds that I’ve referred to are rooted deeply in the absence of grace. I grew up without a clue of how big the grace of God is and even though I am now fully aware of just how all encompassing it is, there are still moments when I regress and refuse to accept it. This day started off with one of those regressive moments.
This is the point in my usual cycle of running from God where I shut down and shut everyone out. I know from past experience that this is how the devil works. He loves to isolate us. Just a few days ago I wrote about how important it is to surround yourself with a body of people who believe and worship as you do. I just preached to the world how you cannot grow or even maintain without your own personal Christian community. The Bible says over and over again how important it is to reach out to one another and to encourage one another and lean on one another and when I know that I’ve screwed up my first instinct is to do exactly the opposite.
Somewhere close to 9:15am, in a faint whisper that I wanted to ignore, I heard this verse:
1 Corinthians 12:26-27
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
My guilt and self pity were not just hurting me.
Since my number one accountability partner is the person I lashed out at the most yesterday, I needed to call on someone else. So, driving down the road, sobbing like a baby (no lectures on safety please), I called a member of my body who knows my heart. She listened, encouraged and gave me an assignment to help mend the fences at home. She promised to pray and to check on me. She did not judge me or lecture me. This is an area that God has really done some work on in me over the past two years. Here’s what the Bible says:
If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.
I can’t say that I’m always successful, but I try really hard to keep critical comments to myself and to reach out gently to those around me who are struggling. When God first started working on me in this area, I assumed the term struggling referred to the big stuff and that pretty much got me off the hook from having to reach out at all. I don’t know anybody who’s murdered someone lately or committed armed robbery and while I’ve reached out during affairs or alcohol and drug abuse, I could easily just avoid my friends that were struggling with those things.
But what about all the other stuff? What about the person who calls me just to gossip about someone we both know? What about the friend who is constantly tearing down her husband? Or the shopping buddy who is putting her family debt? And….What about the Mom whose fuse is too short with her kids?
What I started seeing is that, as Christians, we are responsible to reach out and lift up any member of our church family who is struggling with anything that is not a reflection of Christ. James 4: 17 says that “Anyone then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” Kind of expands your definition of sin there doesn’t it?!
As soon as I got home I spent some time with God. Here is what I read:
Before I confessed my sins, my bones felt limp, and I groaned all day long. Night and day your hand weighed heavily on me, and my strength was gone as in the summer heat.
So I confessed my sins and told them all to you. I said, “I’ll tell the LORD each one of my sins.” Then you forgave me and took away my guilt.
Thank God His grace is so much bigger than my yelling and screaming. That doesn’t get me off the hook with my husband and kids, but it’s certainly the right place to start.
After my fessing up and the Psalmist confirming that my apologies were accepted, my dear friend called me. She had been praying for me and my family and she had three words for me…”Jesus loves you.”
Within five minutes of her phone call, I was putting Sofija down for her nap and as I asked her to pray, she began to sing.