About a month ago, I made a promise to you all that I would be authentic. No false superhuman Christianity acting like I had it all together. Well, today’s the day–the day when I don’t have it all together and the inside of my heart resembles a nasty old garbage can rather than the cleansed vessel it is designed to be. And as a result, my worship and prayer time has been dead. Cold. Emotionless and forced. And although I’m tempted to hide out in the shadows until this ugly monster is sufficiently tamed, authenticity and transparency doesn’t work on an agenda.
Last night at church we talked about how much deeper we feel things involving our children. We may give up our place in line or a new pair of shoes, but it feels like our world’s ended when our child is asked to do the same. Just watch the face of any parent whose seen their child drop an ice cream cone. Or even worse, watch a daddy who’s being told about a school bully. All talk of forgiveness and turning the other cheek goes flying out the window.
So that’s where I am, only God is starting to break through. He has a funny way of doing that. Of gently, yet consistently reminding me that I am the adult–the one He has chosen to train this child entrusted to my care. Not just how to make her bed or how to follow a budget, but how to live life. Most specifically, how to live the Christian life. And living the Christian life means forgiving the unforgivable, biting our tongue when we want to lash out, and demonstrating the unconditional, no-strings-attached, love of Christ.
It’s funny how much time we spend training our kids on so many inconsequentials. We’ll make sure they can catch a ball by three, can ride their bike by six, and can slam dunk by fourteen. And we’d never dream of handing them a calculus book, saying, “Call me once you’ve figured it out.” But somehow when it comes to relationships, we think they’ve got it down. Like at twelve, thirteen–even sixteen, they’ll suddenly know how to make wise decisions and communicate effectively. But then thirty-five roles around and they’re throwing the same childish fits and pulling the same manipulative pranks we saw at twelve. But then again, if they’ve never been trained, should we really expect any different?
So that’s what I did today–I trained. And it wasn’t easy. Even though everything in me wanted to feed the bear, I fought it back and sought out my daughter. I think she’s grown to hate those, “We need to talk”, conversation starters. Almost as much as I hate starting them. Encouraging her to take the high road even if she didn’t want to, even if her heart fought against it, was even harder than fighting back my own dragon. But when she was done making that phone call we both dreaded, we were able to talk about it, with peace, knowing that God would take care of the rest.
In Kristen Heitzmann’s latest novel, Indivisible, one of the characters provides an interesting analogy. He equates our warring emotions to two wolves. One wolf is that of bitterness, anger, and unforgiveness. The other wolf is love, grace, and forgiveness. And, according to Jay, (the character who made the statement) the wolf that wins is the one you feed. How true that is! So starting today, I’m going to actively work on starving the wolf of bitterness so that my other wolf–my loving, gracious and forgiving wolf–will grow stronger. No matter how loud the mean wolf’s tummy growls. And even more importantly, I’m going to purposefully train my daughter to do the same.