Fast forward from that Sunday in September 2009 to about 3 weeks ago. I was all settled into my usual row at Athens Church, drinking my coffee because it's cool to drink coffee in church, and getting ready for some good music. Now I have always [jokingly] referred to Athens Church as being like the dollar movies because we get all of Andy's messages long after he does them in real-time at North Point. I had missed the Sunday before so I was coming in at message #2 of the current series. It took me about minute to realize that the reason why the theme sounded so familiar was because I had already heard the first message. That particular week, question 2 was: "What story do I want to tell?" and a week later, question 3: "Is there tension that needs my attention?"
Pause. It's been awhile since I've really shared anything personal with you three out there in the blogosphere. Partly because I have been super busy and partly because I think that we are far too free with the information we share about our lives on the web these days. I want my story to be used in a way that others will benefit from it but first I've got to make sure that I'm getting the point myself in order for it to do more good than harm. In light of the events that took place back in the summer, I have been harboring some anger over the past month or so. Who am I kidding? It is what it is: rage. You know that whole "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" saying? I think there's something to it. I'm not proud of my anger, but I'm also not trying to ignore it because anger is a perfectly natural emotion that I believe is necessary for me to feel in order to truly get past the hurt that preceded it. And nope, I didn't pay a therapist for that sentence even though I see nothing wrong with paying a therapist for such insight. Anger becomes a problem when we hang onto it like we did our blankets or teddy bears during childhood, but more on that later. Admittedly as I listened to the second and third messages, I couldn't help but to think about how the person that accompanied me to North Point last year would benefit so much more from this series than me. ...and then I invited all of my friends over after church to check out my new glass house that I have recently moved into. Ahem.
Last week was the final message and question: "What would be most honoring to God?" Seriously...Andy had to bring God into the questions? He should just stay in the Bible where we can put him away on a bookshelf. Suddenly my toes were just as black and blue as my little bruised heart.
Now for the few thoughts...
Who here has siblings? Who here has ever been hurt by a sibling? Who here as ever been royally ticked off when mom and dad did not respond or handle the situation in a manner that you felt was suitable and fair? The anger that I have been struggling with revolves around the fact that for five months, the love, trust, honesty and respect that I gave to someone was exchanged for lies and cover-ups. With seemingly zero consequences for the aforementioned someone.
Back to the questions...
Who here thinks that good parents love all of their children equally? Even though a parent may be so disappointed in the actions of a child especially when that child hurts one of the other children, the disappointment doesn't diminish their love for the problem child. Who on this earth knows a child better than his or her parents? No one. Who here thinks that good parenting involves a family vote when determining how to handle a child's actions? Can you imagine the anarchy that would erupt around the family dinner table? Do you see where I'm going with this? The parallels I'm trying to make? Just as a parent loves all of their children equally, God loves all of his children. Even when we are little brats. He knows our hearts better than we do. He knows what's best for us better than we do. He knows how to "parent" us and we all need parenting a little differently. Ever wonder how three kids so different could ever come from the same two parents? Exactly. That's the beauty of a personal relationship.
A few more thoughts...
I do not want to tell a story of how I became an embittered old lady with a bunch of cats and a thirst for justice that would make even the Cullens seem like vegetarians. There are far too many stories of bitterness and anger on the shelves these days, and no one is interested in reading them. Why? Because they don't end well, what's why. I don't know a lot, but I do know that God's will for my life is not for me to get so hung up on and infuriated over the "whys" of a particular situation that was completely out of my control in the first place. I mean seriously, don't we eventually begin to feel sorry for the rat that spends its days running in a wheel? Nobody wants to be the rat running in a wheel. I certainly don't anyway. In short, the decision to spend my days in a fit of rage is not most honoring to God.
This morning at church in an entirely different message, the scripture was this:
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you." -Luke 6:27-31. Yep...it all comes down to the Golden Rule.
As if my toes had not already been stomped on enough, they got a few more bruises this morning. If I listen though and truly take these words to heart, instead of having a crippling effect, they will give me the strength that I need to walk. But it's not the words that give me the strength. It's the one who said them.
One more thing before I go. [I know, I know...it's like mile 12 of a half-marathon...you just want to get it over with and be done already.] I am reading Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning and in it he quotes Henri Nouwen. I find it fitting for this blog post as well as the season that we are entering.
"To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives - the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections - that requires hard spiritual work. Still, we are only grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment. As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for. Let's not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God."