Shoveling. Shoveling. Shoveling. Falling. Shoveling. Bowling.
Needless to say, we got more snow over night. The temperature stayed in the negatives for the majority of the day. The negativity, and I’m not talking about the temperature, stayed in my brain throughout the day…all the way up until the very end.
There are mornings when I wake up and I somehow have spiritual amnesia where I’m just an idiot and completely forget who I am, who God is, etc. I forget that I’m human…that I’m not God. I forget that without the grace of God, I am nothing but a hypocrite. And that’s the role I played today.
The day started out well; I woke up, talked to God for a little while, trying to get myself to focus on what I was reading in God’s word….but my brain was cluttered with all sorts of nonsense. I was thinking about my story.
Frustrated with being unable to focus, unable to grow and learn, I went outside and began shoveling the driveway, all the while venting to God about the story. The problem with writing this story in particular, is that it would be too easy to make Satan and evil the main character rather than an enemy set up to be defeated. I know it sounds crazy and kind of ridiculous, but I’m a writer…I’m pretty much labeled as insane anyway. Now, I’m not an expert (obviously) on anything, but especially not on spiritual allegories…it’s days like this I wish I could write a letter to C.S. Lewis.
After talking to God, I felt much better.
For some reason, I was really emotional and sassy and weird today, and I was bouncing off the walls…probably because I’ve been living off of toasted bagels, chocolate-chip pecan cookies, and Hershey kisses for the past week or so…considering my past experiences with sugar, I should know better.
Anyway, so I’m hyped up on sugar, I can’t focus, I’m thinking about the story, and Gracie and Jimmy are all over the place as well. Jimmy, Gracie, Mom, and I began a game of Skip-Bo. Jimmy has been enjoying his new use of the word hypocrite. The thing is, the first time he used it on me, it really hurt because I wasn’t actually being that way. When he used it during the game, however, I most definitely was. We had been picking at each other almost all day, and my nerves were raw. Mom had been trying to say something and Jimmy interrupted her; I asked him to let her finish…not very nicely. Then, when I was talking about having to go to the dentist on Monday, and Jimmy began saying what I thought was a mean comment (but was actually a simple comment about his getting braces soon), and I interrupted him, saying I didn’t want to hear it. His face went right through me as I realized what I’d done, though I didn’t show it at first. He got up from his chair and went upstairs, calling me a hypocrite.
The word cut through me like a knife, and God gently nudged me through my mother. My emotions didn’t want me to apologize to Jimmy; I was very tempted to sass my mother and not bother with apologizing to Jimmy: after all, why should I apologize to him? He’s the one who had been picking at me. It was like an I Love Lucy episode was happening inside my head, where Fred and Ethel were over at the Ricardo’s, and Ethel was pointing at Fred saying, “But he started it!”
But as my mother encouraged me to apologize to Jimmy, to tell him I was wrong, my pride was squashed and I mentally fell flat on my face…it was painful, and I walked up the stairs like a dog with its tail between its legs. The apology was enough to convince Jimmy to come back downstairs to finish the game with us. But my pride wasn’t totally vanquished.
Later on, Gracie, Tyler, and I went bowling and then after we went to Burger King. Bowling with Tyler (Gracie went to bowl with a group of her friends) was really nice. Tyler and I grew up together…I mean, we’re cousins, but Tyler is the only other kid in our ridiculously large family who’s my age. We were like brother and sister, and we still are. Being able to just fool around with him and feel like a kid again was really nice.
I was helping Mom in the kitchen after bowling. I was mushing meat, herbs, and vegetables together for meatloaf. Jimmy was walking through the kitchen, and the Holy Spirit was nudging me again.
God, I already apologized.
No you didn’t. Not really. Your pride is still there, and you know it.
But God, I don’t want to make a scene.
I didn’t get a reply to that last one…so I figured that was the equivalent to, “You know what you need to do, so do it.”
And the wall was broken.
I finally apologized to Jimmy, explaining that I was completely wrong and he was right in the fact that I had been hypocritical, that I had assumed something that wasn’t actually true. Though it had taken my being knocked down quite a few levels, God brought me back to where I needed to be, reminding me that I am not His equal, much less above Him, but rather I am His daughter, His soldier. It’s not all about me.
Right. Yeah Hunter.
Oh pride is a nasty gnarly weirdo-head thing that humans tend to fall prey to, especially now. The thing is, there’s no magical formula to getting rid of pride and of jealousy, there’s no five-step method to not being an arrogant control freak…it’s just a day-to-day process.
“But Christians are supposed to be perfect.”
Nope. Not even close. In fact, I think we’re even less perfect than the rest of humanity, because we’re going against the grain of the world, and therefore are met by more challenges, physical, emotional, and especially spiritual. The thing is, and I’ve said this before, even though believers are children of God, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us, we are still human and we’re still susceptible to the world, to temptation, to pain, to serious imperfection and downfall.
But if you read through the Bible, you will see that God only ever uses seriously messed up people. David slept with another man’s wife, got her pregnant, then killed her husband. Abraham made the mistake of putting his needs before God’s desires way too many times. Peter, who was destined to be the Rock of the church post resurrection, denied Christ three times and rebuked Christ for being too intense in His messages to the people. And don’t even get me started on Jonah and Gideon. So yeah, Christians are hypocrites; they mess up and fall down; they lie, cheat, steal, and hate; they feel pain, sadness, anger, and frustration. But despite these obvious flaws in Christians, in humanity, this is no representation of who God is. God loves messed up people, but He doesn’t stop there. His love is so intense for us, that it changes people. Without God’s love, I never would’ve apologized to Jimmy…I never would’ve forgiven Stephen…I never would’ve survived this long.
I am not perfect; I am not strong; I am not all knowing or all seeing or all powerful….but God is, and despite everything that’s happened, that is to come, that’s happening now, despite all of the messes I’m going to make and all of the mistakes I’m going to exert over my world, that is still, always and forever, enough for me.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” —2 Corinthians 12:9,10, ESV