grace, mercy, love…
Yesterday, after I had put kids in their correct places at the church building, and found my seat beside my oldest; after I had clapped to an acoustic version of Rise And Sing, that man humbled me with grace and love all over again! Only God, and a God-fearing husband, can correct me like that – with so much grace, mercy, and love that you wonder if you’ve been spanked or hugged. Quite possibly it was both, but the love was so much that the pain was hardly able hurt.
He told our story of Saturday. How we had gone to the Parade of Homes, and how we had found it. We had found the home that made his wife’s heart beat faster and her eyes grow wider. We had looked upon diy idea after diy idea and made suggestions of what we might could do on our own. I had actually enjoyed most of my day – no work, not being home after being home for most of the week, being with all of us. Then, we came home – to our home. The one that is not in the Parade. The one that does not have many diy projects hanging here or shelving this. The one that was actually full of dog hair and play-do gathered under the kitchen table, papers from kids’ early morning projects lying everywhere (they’re great at diy’s!), real clothes in the play clothes box, dishes to be put away, flowers wilting and newly planted grass dying in the back yard – that’s the one I walked into.
Due to his grace and love for me, Nathan did not share what happened next; he only shared what “I taught him”. Ha! Well, lessons come in all shapes and sizes and words and pitches and tones of voice. After service a sweet sister in our church came up to me. We had actually seen each other at that house on Saturday. She stated how hard it was to see all that and then be grateful for what you have to come home to; she said something along the lines of how true Nathan’s words had been. She said something about what I had taught him. I chose at that moment to come clean…about my uncleanness.
I revealed to her how the learning process had really gone. I had come in, beheld all that was called mine, and stomped around in disgust. I barked “clean up” orders to unsuspecting children, I slammed chairs and trash can lids and books down, I scowled and quite possibly growled. Words flew before my hand could get to my mouth! And I knew what was happening – in my mind I knew what was going on and who was winning and that I had a choice to make. I tried to stop. I hugged the latest child that I had made look at me with confused eyes, said I was sorry…and then stomped away to the next less than pristine part of the house.
He spoke stern, albeit loving, words to me. I finished whatever I was wiping down, and then I took myself upstairs to my bedroom, with the brown furniture I’ve been ready to get rid of for years, shut the door, walked to my side of the bed, and lay face down and wept. Something happened within those few steps from the door to my side of the bed, though; something I had not expected. The way the fan sitting in the window, blowing refreshing air into our bedroom, it…delighted me. A fan, not white but yellowed after years of use, sitting in the window – it delighted me! The way the green quilt that he got me the year I was pregnant with Hannah looked all smoothed out on the bed – it stilled me, comforted me, welcomed me. I climbed up on it, held on tight to my thinning pillow and cried. I cried not over what I didn’t have or what I did; I cried over my ungratefulness to my Father.
Do you know why I had had such a good day? It wasn’t because of the houses and the decorations my eyes had beheld or the fact that they didn’t have dog hair and play-do under their tables. My day had gone well because in my mind I had kept my place of contentment at the forefront. In my mind’s eye I could see myself curled up on that chair or couch in my living room – the one Nathan had worked so hard to give me – with a cup of coffee warming my hands and just being happy and grateful for the “small” life I was blessed to live. I kept thinking all day, “I just can’t wait to get back to my simple life – the life my Father gave me.” So, how could such thoughts turn into such actions?
I wish I could explain. I really don’t know. All I can think is that I was secretly holding onto what had not been given to me. I was secretly dwelling on and yearning for what I had filled my eyes and mind with that day, and though I yearned for contentment even more, my temporary idolatry would not be ignored. She would not just let me push her out of the way without a fight, and me, I allowed what I saw when we I got home to weaken me. So, when she raised her ugly head, I looked around instead of up and then did the only thing that ever happens after – I fell down. Over and over. I knew I should be the one conquering, but I literally felt that I was falling – fast and hard – down a hill and could not catch myself to stop. How I pray for my future. I pray to become “more than a conquerer” because it is who we are in Christ Jesus, and me, I betray who I am all the time when I forget Whose I am.
So, how did I get up? After the cry, I got up, and walked about in silence for the rest of the evening. I apologized in whispers to my children. We prayed with them – rather he prayed and I bowed in silence. I knew there was one more I needed to talk with before my Father would talk with me. I sat on the couch, trying to work up the courage and press down the pride. Finally, I turned to him, and said quietly, “I am sorry for my actions. Will you forgive?” He said yes. He always does…always has. The night was still tough, but the morning came gently.
He had told me the day before what he ended up sharing with everyone Sunday morning. I had just nodded and tried not to say anything more that was not nice. I had no idea he would share it though; no idea he would make it seem like I had done something good – teach – while I ranted and wailed like so much bad. It wasn’t really me; it is always Him Who teaches. He is just able to make it all teachable – the good, the bad, the ugly but not just teachable. He makes all things new and good, and He does it because He knows our frames and He loves us anyway!
So I curled back up on that chair this morning, Bible and coffee in hand, and I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be – with Him…here. I picked up that journal that was given to me by a very special friend, right when I had used the last line in my other one, and I counted some more. I must!
sitting with my girl out front under a quilt
playing cards with my oldest
his words, his kisses, his love
a patch of golden leaves in the midst of green – hope!
a good talk with family
the red geraniums that keep giving one more bloom
finishing reading words by Tozer – worship will always be more now
writing down what I believe – why have I waited so long?!
in church he shared
in church I sang and He held the tears
in church I hugged a few very important people in my life