A barking dog, a screaming baby and an argumentative six year old boy. Baby poop all over pjs and crib linens, a dog grabbing things to eat that are actually are shoes and a demanding 6 year old boy. A six year old boy who responds to almost every request with a long, moaning, “Noooooooooo”, an increasingly mobile baby curious about all the forbidden spots in the house like under the kitchen sink, the dog bowl and the trash and a dog who leaps on people and furniture no matter how many tactics we try to change this. So, it is Thursday morning and I was pretty wiped out by about 10am on Monday. It has been the week that won’t stop and I’d like to say I’ve responded like a graceful ballerina, but that would a big fat lie. Instead, I pretty much am beginning my days angry, impatient and lacking in all humor in response to the day before and anticipation of the one ahead of me. My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. James 1:19-21 Yeah, no kidding that anger does not produce righteousness. That love which never dishonors others, is not self-seeking and is not easily angered is clearly barely present in my words, attitudes and actions. “Accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” Jesus. But what does that look like, not just on the first argument of the week about something small, but on the 135th argument of the week over putting on long sleeves or finishing school work? In those moments, I want to become the Incredible Hulk and roar ferociously as my green bulging anger muscles rip off my sleeves and lower pants, forcing my opponents into wide eyed compliance. I just want compliance. I just want the dog to be well behaved (even though we’ve totally neglected her and never provided consistent training), I want our precious youngest daughter to know and trust that we’re taking care of her and that sometimes I can’t carry her to the next room RIGHT NOW or sometimes I have to tell her no about such things as ripping bulletin boards off the wall. Do we have to have all that screaming about it? And I want my truly very sweet (except that sin at birth reality) son to accept the answer “no” and trust me enough to just do what I’ve asked without nearly killing us all in a battle each time. At the very least, couldn’t just one of these things happen in a given day rather than all three seeming to happen simultaneously and constantly all day each day like it has been this week? Maybe then I could handle it. I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; Psalm 121:1-3 The word planted in me, the person and work of Jesus, is my help and my strength. I do not have to look to all of these sources of excruciating stress for my help, as if only in their change is my peace and love toward them all possible. Instead, I can remember both that 1)I am the screaming baby, disagreeable 6 year old and destructive dog in God’s creation and 2)He is slow to anger, abounding in love and begins each day with new mercies not just in general but directed to me in all the ways I must anger Him. Am I changed now after processing this a bit? Don’t I wish. Are my nerves still raw and my energy totally depleted as I begin this day? Absolutely. So where is the person and work of Jesus in that? But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor. 12:9-10Do I feel delighted right now to enter into more conflict today? Am I eager to do the jobs that I am supposed to do rather than just sort of avoid them and stay hidden until bedtime? Yet, He has not given me a spirit of timidity but of power…not superpower like the Hulk, but He gives me more faith to trust Him and His presence in the face of these stressful moments that I cannot handle in my own weakness. Somehow, by faith, I will love today because He has first loved me.
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