So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
I have a love/hate relationship with spiritual growth. Actually, I prefer to do things I love. I prefer to do things I’m good at. If spiritual growth were easy all the time, I’d be cool. But when I’m stretched beyond what I think is my capability and capacity, I get a little testy. Or a lot. It’s much more comfortable trying to grow oneself all by oneself, don’t you think? Sort of like the flowers watering, fertilizing and weeding themselves.
Then again . . .
This past weekend, something happened where I found myself backed into a corner by someone’s actions. Not intentionally, of course. But sometimes people make decisions while having no clue how those decisions are going to affect someone else.
The someone else was me this time. And I felt an inferno in the magma chamber of my belly ready to rise up and blow the side off my mountain. The person’s decision was rude and completely inappropriate. But given the fact that the major trespasser also happens to be someone I love and to whom I’m devoted and who is often clueless about possible consequences, I found myself trying to give grace and stay calm. You know, trying to be that Miss Perfect Christian, beating down her inner beast? You know, THAT woman? The one who smiles while she’s got herself spread eagle over the basement door of her soul, her face turning red, trying to make others believe there’s no monster down there lurking in the dark?
Well, THAT woman was THIS woman on Saturday.
I basically blew like Mount St. Helens.
Like really LOUD blew.
I’m thinking the decibel level definitely reached the hot-red “yelling” section on the meter.
Doesn’t happen often with me but when a certain line is crossed one too many times about the same issue and I’m pretty dang certain the line was crossed intentionally, I’m done gone.
So yes, I lost my temper, which sounds as benign as losing your sunglasses or your water bottle. But it isn’t. Flicking tongues and flying words do damage, even when you’re not calling someone an idiot or something worse.
I’ve been on the receiving end and the giving end. And dang it! I hate the giving end more! I hate screwing up by blowing up! Because, dang it, I want to be oh, so perfect in the self-control department. And I just hate it when I blow my own basement door right off its hinges.
So I apologized for losing my temper. But I didn’t apologize for feeling angry about the fact that this certain someone had acted so rudely and insensitively. And I still made a REQUEST for change, knowing full well this person might decide to act the same way again. I can’t control anyone. Ye gads, I can’t even control myself! And when I lose self-control, I seem to forget something important . . .
I have a BRAIN!
And I can actually USE my brain!
So, I put it to work and realized I had become so self-focused that I lost my God-focus.
Again. Anybody else do this besides me?
(Please say yes or my brain will once again be kidnapped by my emotions. Spare me!)
Self-focus can focus on how FINE we are OR how AWFUL we are. You know.
I’m not as bad as so-and-so. What’s the big deal? We’re all sinners. God is a forgiving God. And besides, he/she had it coming.
OR . . .
I’m just a drivelling dweeb, unlike anyone on earth, so low I shouldn’t consume one crumb of grace.
Usually, we humans vacillate between both these views to some extent.
By God’s grace (because I certainly wasn’t asking for help from him in the moment!), he showed me myself on both sides of the see-saw.
First, I saw the perfection wannabe.
I wannabe Miss Perfect. Miss Perfectly Composed All The Time. Miss Totally Sanctified. Miss Thank-You-For-Your-Offer-To-Perfect-Me-By-Humbling-Me-God-But-I-Think-I’d-Prefer-Another-Way-That-Keeps-My-Ego-Intact. Do you mind?
And then God showed me my anger toward him . . .
And BTW God, now that we’re connecting a bit after my blow, I’m actually kinda mad at you. Now hear me out before you squash me like a bug (or a drivelling dweeb) . . .
I’m kinda MAD that I’m not FURTHER along in this SANCTIFICATION plan of yours! Like, really? How LONG is this going to TAKE, because I’m pretty impatient about this particular subject and I don’t think I can take being humbled one more time by my flesh taking me over like some alien coming down in a spaceship, snatching me up and infusing me with some serum to run a test on how blown tempers affect the human species.
Me and my volcanic episode? It started with pride, moved to shame, and ended with blame. Hmmmm. Sounds like another woman I know. Know someone named Eve? Pride. Shame. Blame.
Yet, our gracious and loving God came looking for me while lost in the three—Pride, Shame, Blame—and invited me into his presence where I could see the truth about me—about him—and be set free. Again.
Truth is, I’m a yet imperfect pilgrim progressing toward God and, as such, I’m a person completely dependent on God for any good that grows in me. Just like the flowers. Apart from him, I can produce no good and lasting thing.
Truth is, God loves me even in my worst ugly and keeps his covenant with me—his promise never to leave me or forsake me—even when I break my covenant with him—to trust and obey his commands.
Truth is, we only grow spiritually with humility—realizing we are all desperately needy of a perfect God who is committed to perfecting us—something we cannot ever accomplish on our own.
So, by the grace of God and my own free will, I am choosing to accept forgiveness given, both from people and God. I am choosing to bow low my ego and worship the one who assures I need not fear, for he is with me. I am choosing to bow low my ego and worship the God who invites me not to be dismayed, to remember he is still my God, always. I am choosing to bow low my ego and worship the God who says HE will strengthen me and help me and uphold me with HIS righteous right hand. Only HE can save us from the deep pit of shame and guilt that in inextricably bound to and rooted in pride. Sooner or later, we’ll all discover there’s only One who can free us from the chains of pride, shame and blame. He already has. But will we bow low the ego?
End of story? Sorry was spoken by both. Forgiveness was offered and received. Once again, we saw we’re all on the same level, being leveled by a perfectly loving God just so he can raise us up better than before, closer to him and each other.