Archive for the ‘Discipline’ Category

My Weirdest Blog Post to Date

April 27th, 2016

Well this is going to be humiliating. In fact it was almost a year ago I drafted this and only now do I feel bold enough to put it out on the blog for all to see. But as I find it more true than ever at this particular moment in my life, I feel […]

 

Well this is going to be humiliating. In fact it was almost a year ago I drafted this and only now do I feel bold enough to put it out on the blog for all to see. But as I find it more true than ever at this particular moment in my life, I feel like now is the time. You know¬†since I am blogging this I love you (readers) because the message is more important than the sacrifice of my image! ūüėČ And if it shocks you, maybe it will be unforgettable and you’ll remember the point of the story haha!

Let’s begin and get this over with – Ladies and gents, getting older is no fun sometimes for so many different reasons! The one I am going to talk about today is a little “hairy”.

About 8 months ago (gosh now that is like 17 months)¬† I looked at Bryan to say something and he reached over and plucked something right off of my chin. I think the fact that it was attached to my face scared us both. To my utter disgust I had grown a hair. Don’t leave the blog yet! I have a point other than to paint a gross portrait of myself! ūüėČ

This disgusting production on my face has made me think lots of things…but it also weirdly reminded me of sinful strongholds in our lives and some important things to remember when coming to Christ to be free of them.¬† You ready for the weirdest illustration of this possibly ever? Here goes:

1.) Like sin, I wanted to hide this hair on my chinny chin chin from the world. I still do! God help me if you ever see it on my face, but by God alone He knows that maybe the humiliations of telling you here on the blog will keep my pride in check and paint a picture of sin that you’ll never forget haha! But just like hiding this chin hair will save my pride but lack any chance to relate to other imperfect human beings, hiding sin is the most destructive thing you can do with it. It’s pointless because the Bible tells us that your sin is always sure to find you out. May I remind you that I was also not the one to notice my “issue”¬†first? Sometimes others can see your sin and it’s nasty effects in your life before you are ready to acknowledge it for yourself. Even the most secret of sins will eventually grow and begin to manifest itself in other parts of your life. And even if no one else knows the details of that secret, they’ll be effected by the consequences of the sin that it will have on you and within you. What is worse is that attempting to hide your sin is almost always most destructive to you! It is not healthy! And of course secret sin is never hidden from God. It’s nothing more than a frivolous effort that – like a boulder gaining momentum as it rolls down a hill – that will be more destructive to you and others than you ever intended. Andy Stanley once quoted that “Sin always has a pleasure and a payment. The pleasure is like this big and lasts for this long (showing a small amount) but the payment will sometimes¬†affect¬†you the rest of your life.” On the flip side, sharing the sometimes embarrassing struggles you have can help both you and anyone else who may share a similar struggle – so the uncomfortable task of bearing one another’s sins can promote liberty for more than just yourself – and it’s a testimony of how we all fall short and yet God can work in the imperfect one’s life, exposing anything less than the image of Christ and then helping redeem and transform them. In fact scripture says it is in confessing to one another that we begin to find healing.

2.) Like sin, when I recognized this hair was a part of me I was utterly ashamed of it. I wanted it gone. Similarly, once we recognize the sin that has a hold of our hearts and our habits, we usually want it gone too if we recognize the damage being done.

3.) Like sin, I have to cooperate to get this undesired thing out of my life. To rid my face of this horrible hair, I have to participate. God is able to free us from sin but He needs our cooperation with him… to come to Him, confess it, and use His truth, prayer, and apply the other armor of God to protect us from ending up back where we began. It takes our effort.

4.) Plucking this nasty hair and keeping our temptations in check takes maintenance. Unfortunately, once it is plucked, I never know when it might rare its ugly head again! I must always be checking for it before I go out in public – God forbid! Like this, many times the sin we struggle with is a habitual one that gained momentum over time without us realizing it… making it usually something we are defensive about at first, reluctant to confess, and it often involves a lengthy struggle to get it surrendered to God and defeated in your life. Once we have initially brought our sin to God and experienced freedom from the pull of it, we must not forget that we are never too strong that we cannot fall again. The sin that once has such a stronghold on our hearts and behaviors can also rare its ugly head at any time in various forms to catch us unguarded and vulnerable. For instance, though I’ve allowed God to correct my insecurities in some areas of life, insecurity tends to pop up like a new monster when I face conflicts or misunderstandings in new situations, friendships or when I don’t meet my own expectations. Same struggle default, different scenarios. I need maintenance with this area in my life! It is not on our own that we are freed from sin, and we must continue to be aware of the possibility of our weaknesses taking us by surprise and thus seek God continually to guard us from it and help us when unexpected temptation and struggle might arise.

5.) Sin in our lives often grows in a blind spot that we will overlook without the help of others. I look for this hair EVERY. DAY! And do you know what? I still just 2 months ago was riding in the car when Bryan laughed and said “Brittany your hair is back!” He was half amused and I am sure half cringing – haha! Let’s face it- the last thing a bride wants her man to see when he looks at her is this! But though it is humbling to have Bryan aware off my imperfections, I need him. We need other people to help us see in our blind spots. I apparently cannot always see myself accurately in the mirror, and I need some one with my best interest in mind… Someone willing to bare with me and expose my ugly faults, point them out when I fail to see them myself, and sometimes even help me get rid of them. Sin is very similar! Accountability is humbling, ugly and uncomfortable – but it is essential. We as people have blindspots sometimes and no matter how we look for things, we can only see one perspective. Having someone you trust, or a small group of people who are trustworthy and who have only your best interest at heart who are available to lovingly point out and be a part of your sin maintenance is more than beneficial to living a life liberated from the ugly effects of sin.

So as icky and awkward as it is, and as this story is like toothpaste that once squeezed I’ll never be able to cram it back into the tube of privacy…I am thankful that God can use this unattractive happening right on my face to give me an eternal and internal picture to teach me and affirm to us the truths about temptation, sin, and freedom. Hopefully this brought to light some good truths and reminders…And hopefully we can still be friends! ūüėČ

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And My Shame is Undone.

January 13th, 2016

I started this week off fully aware of my weaknesses in the current roles God has placed me in and determined to fix.them.once.and.for.ALL. They all boil down to getting my act(s) together. Ever feel like you need to do that? I am totally aware of the fact that many women have a lot more on […]

 

I started this week off fully aware of my weaknesses in the current roles God has placed me in and determined to fix.them.once.and.for.ALL. They all boil down to getting my act(s) together. Ever feel like you need to do that? I am totally aware of the fact that many women have a lot more on their plate than I do, but nevertheless the perfectionist in me is still more than unpleased with being less than excellent in my roles and responsibilities.

  • As a wife, I want to know what I am making for meals ahead of time rather than repeating meals out of lack of time to get creative and standing at my fridge with last minute grocery needs. I want the meals to be delicious and healthy. I want my house cleaning to find a consistent medium rather than spic-and-span to¬†it-looks-like-we-threw-a-party.¬†I want to be amazing at serving my husband since he works so hard selflessly serving me.
  • As a serving hand, I want to be helpful and reliable in any roles I have in ministry and in my role as an¬†FRG co-leader.
  • As a friend I want to do my part to love and connect¬†and fill gaps in communication that are my fault.
  • As a photographer, I want to get back ¬†to focussing on and enjoying my passion photography and serving and blessing my clients.
  • And generally, I want to be ahead of my schedule rather than feeling like I am always running to try and catch up. I need time-management and organizational improvement. That should do it for my 2016 goals if I had any! ūüėČ

I have begun reading about realistic organizing and scheduling for women with important but fluid and flexible and ever changing time blocks of availability. I am beginning this journey to improve these things and¬†was feeling accomplished the night before last when I had succeeded in making meals ahead for much of our busy¬†week. Bryan had liked them, was impressed with the change in my norm, and told me he felt like a king. THAT is how I want to treat my husband and I was so encouraged to love and serve him better like that! But¬†it never fails that, because I am¬†still a work in progress, I will always inevitably¬†rest my head at the end of a busy day seeing things that fell through the cracks. I didn’t message her back. I should have prepared more for this. I should have made time to be there for that. I totally forgot about this…how could I forget?!?!

Yesterday, for just a tiny example, I woke up early to spend time with the Lord and prep everything for my day according to my new to-do list. Bags for lunches, ministry items, items to bring over to friends, ingredients for food for our FRG meeting and a photo collage to show-off our troop activities to encourage family involvement, my purse to pay for things, and makeup to put on on-the-go. I made a trek to our post with everything I had noted I needed to bring so that I wouldn’t have to drive an extra hour home and back for anything. I ushered in all of the items I needed to bring¬†to our chapel’s women’s ministry for the day…and soon realized I totally forgot something essential. One of the roles I volunteered recently for was to photograph events for this ministry, and with another separate responsibility in mind, I completely forgot my camera. Like it didn’t even make it onto that list I was so sure was going to make me fool-proof. I¬†swallowed¬†a healthy dose of humility when I informed¬†our ministry leader and received her sweet extension of grace and understanding for my mishap.¬†Inside though I hated feeling like no matter what I tried, I couldn’t seem to avoid screwing something up. I slapped a smile on my face – which stayed there once¬†surrounded by so many fun witty and loving girls in our community. But I couldn’t shake feeling discouraged, disappointed in myself and just aggravated.

It wasn’t until being in the middle of worship at the end of this program that God would prick my heart. Singing a beautiful song, we got to a verse that says:

Where my heart becomes free and my shame is undone
[in] Your presence, Lord

Y’all. I felt tears just roll on down and struggled to sing¬†the words. The Lord was revealing to me something in my heart I needed to bring to Him. My Shame. I new somewhere along the lines I was believing lies that were resulting into inward shame, and I knew that was not what I as a believer in Christ should be continuing in. But I felt stuck.

There wasn’t a moment of time to myself the rest of the day, so this morning it was still on my heart. I began to search for Biblical wisdom and insight and found a really really well-written extensive article on shame in the heart of people. It defines Shame as:

SHAME: the painful emotion caused by a consciousness of guilt or shortcoming or impropriety.

The part that resonated most with me was that there is well-placed shame (or I like to think of it as conviction and a lack of peace) which is the result of doing something or saying something or believing something that dishonors God, and ¬†there is a shame that is misplaced. I knew nothing in my heart sought to intentionally dishonor God in my current actions, and that none of the things that actually made me ashamed were in themselves dishonoring to God. Thus I was dealing with what I had already presumed that morning prior in worship – that I was believing a lie and experiencing misplaced shame. Shame that I had no business feeling, but that brought about conviction on some things that I did in fact need revealed to me so that I could confess and seek God’s grace and forgiveness and redemption for (so my misplaced shame exposed a root of well-placed shame…something I was not living according to God’s truth thus not honoring Him). The article, along with scripture, hit the nail on the head for me –

“much of what makes us feel shame is not that we have brought dishonor to God by our actions, but that we have failed to give the appearance that other people admire….Much of our shame is not God-centered but self-centered. Until we get a handle on this, we will not be able to battle the problem of shame at its root….So in the very act of wanting to avoid shame as the world sees it, they (talking about the¬†people of Corinth but¬†I¬†might as well¬†replace they with I) fell into the very behavior that God counts shameful.”

With so much of this in mind and a clear identification of where¬†my thinking and heart¬†have ventured off the path of God’s truth, I knew what I needed to bring before the throne. If you are experiencing shame of any kind, I highly recommend reading scripture, checking out this article, and praying about it. This is my prayer (below)…and I share it in case it can be one we pray together if you find yourself in a similar situation!

¬† ¬† ¬†Lord, I have bought my accuser – the enemy’s – lies. I have shamed myself wrongly and in doing so I did not see¬†the root of my sin which is the vanity of wanting to please or be acceptable to others, the pride of wanting to be perfect (which is a¬†pointless pursuit), and the selfishness of wanting others to think I have it all together. But what glory does it bring You, Father, if I lose sight of my need for You and my depravity apart from You and without Your grace, strength, and ability to be exalted in my weaknesses?¬†

     Culture says to cover your weaknesses and put up the best front. To seek success, recognition, comfort and/or power. Your Word says to rather boast about our weaknesses and not in our abilities but in You alone. 

     Thank You Lord for not letting my efforts to appear perfect prevail. Thank You for reminding me of my weaknesses (daily) and need of Your sufficient grace and strength and power, that I may not continue to buy lies or pat myself on the back, but instead look up to You, smile, and Praise Your Sweet, Tender, Mighty, Name. 

     Forgive me, Father, for getting this wrong lately. Lord, redeem me back to where my heart needs to be and help me guard my heart and mind from this continually. Thank You for Your Truth, for revealing it to me in the midst of my struggling with lies and for bringing me back to the path walking in Your Truth. I know my weak areas well Lord. You have allowed me to recognize them plainly and publicly that I might not cover (despite my best efforts) or ignore my need for You to work in me and through them. 

     Help me submit and be obedient to You to work in them each step of the way, and may I keep a humble heart having godly humility, selflessly only looking to You, and seeking to honor and glorify You King Jesus!

In Your Name, Amen. 

“God is the giver, and we are the receivers. His richest gifts are bestowed not upon those who do the greatest things, but upon those who accept His abundance and His grace.”

– Hannah Whitall Smith

 

I believe this needs to be a constant reminder in our lives, and I pray we never settle for living in shame! He has come to redeem us, to bring us abundant life and the richest form of freedom. May we not miss out on what He offers us!

shame undone

 

 

 

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All in a Day’s Work for the Gardener

May 20th, 2015

Don’t you just love how God teaches us about Himself in the simplest but often more-complex-than-they-seem-on-the-surface type of ways? He chose to teach us so many things about His character through the simple picture of a Shepherd tending his flock of sheep. Jesus also tells us that He is the true Vine (in whom we […]

 

Don’t you just love how God teaches us about Himself in the simplest but often more-complex-than-they-seem-on-the-surface type of ways? He chose to teach us so many things about His character through the simple picture of a Shepherd tending his flock of sheep. Jesus also tells us that He is the true Vine (in whom we are to remain) and we are the branches…and that His Father is the gardener. (**sigh**) I am going to deviate for a second – but I have a point!

Since this is the first time in over a year that we are going to be living in one place for more than 18 months, I was excited to grow an herb garden to save a little money on groceries and add an extra punch of fresh nutritious flavor to our meals. So far, all I invested in was this basil plant. Obviously, it is looking a little gangly since I have not yet developed or fine-tuned my green thumb.

BASIL

When learning about my own “gardening needs” according to scripture recently, I was drawn to search for tips on helping my sad basil plant. As it turns out, harvesting basil is the key to keeping it healthy. When harvesting it, you have to cut the leaves off just above the second set from the ground. According to this article I was amazed to find that “the single stalk will now end here, and two new branches will now bud and grow from the set of leaves you left behind.” What seemed like it might kill off my plant actually doubles its productivity – wow! Unfortunately, as you can see in my loved but naively neglected little plant, I did not prune it, but only plucked some bottom leaves in efforts to not hinder it from growing…WRONG! And¬† – it sprouted flowers. Instead of taking action like a knowledgeable experienced gardener, I thought “good for it!” Boy was I wrong again! Apparently as I sat down to research and write this post this very morning, I learned that once the Basil plant produces buds, you are to nip it in the bud if you want your Basil plant to stay healthy…otherwise it will die as they are annual plants meaning they grow only one season before dying. ;( As I read that my mouth dropped open and I ran and snatched those stupid flowers off my plant…I will let you know I guess if I was too late. Darn.

Where in the world am I going with this? I know I know… I am getting to the point. ūüėČ According to the Bible, God our Father is the gardener in our hearts and minds when we follow Him, and He desires His followers to bear [much] good fruit! (John 15:8) He says that His disciples are recognized by their fruit. What is this fruit? Obedience, the spread of the Good News and addition of new believers, love, and/or Christian character most commonly known as the Fruit of the Spirit. Likewise, false prophets and those who profess to believe but do not will also be known by their fruit, or lack there of.¬† We can only bear good fruit or bad fruit, and in order to bear good fruit we must seek, endure correction, and be willing to be pruned of any potential bad fruit caused by sin. Like my basil plant, when we are properly pruned all potential death-causing flowers are kept from blooming. ūüėČ

SOMETIMES WE HAVE TO ALLOW GOD TO PRUNE AWAY OUR BAD FRUIT AND NIP IT IN THE BUD IN ORDER FOR US TO PRODUCE THE GOOD FRUIT AND BE EVEN MORE FRUITFUL. AND SOMETIMES HE MUST UPROOT IT ENTIRELY.

Recently I was in need of some uprooting. Occasionally, I tend to get a decorating idea in my head and it all too quickly becomes an obsession that clouds any¬†financially responsible, logical or reasonable judgement. Before long I was obsessed and googling some items for a perfect summer table-scape. Sounds innocent right? Yea I thought so too. I told my self all kinds of innocent reasoning to justify why I must have it and have it completed now. But as He often does, God in His loving kindness was bound to reveal some heart issues deep down so that he could begin His gardening work. Sometimes I am stubborn. After an hour of online shopping, planning, and asking for early Birthday presents from Mom and Dad (no purchases made yet), I began my quiet time studying God’s Word. It is hilarious to me that I glanced right over anything suggesting I needed to look at God’s Word regarding my heart and its temptations in this particular situation, but at one point it was so obvious I chuckled. I had decided to begin reading through the Bible on a 1 year plan, and God hilariously brought me on Day 1 (I should’ve known) to the very first woman and her fall to temptation. I have read, studied and even taught on this story in the Bible multiple times, but today it applied in a particular way. Matthew Henry’s Commentary noted

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† “The place fixed for Adam to dwell was not a palace but a garden. The better we take up with plain things, and the less we seek things to gratify pride and luxury, the nearer we approach innocency. Nature is content with a little…but lust craves everything and is content with nothing.”

Okay Lord, I am listening, I wrote in my journal. Multiple and separate books I picked up kept addressing the compulsive tendency for people to crave stockpiling things. I am not usually this way, but I knew I was fitting in perfectly at this point in my mission to decorate my table. The commentary boldy went on to say that Adam when he participated in the first sin “plainly showed contempt of what God bestowed on him and a desire for what God did not see fit to give him. He would have what he pleased and do what he pleased. His sin was, in one word, disobedience.” Ouch. I realized something in my heart was off…in the wrong place…wanting something that wasn’t innately wrong, but wanting it for the wrong reasons. Unfortunately I knew I had deceived myself (since all sin involves believing a lie) somewhere along the way and that I needed God’s help to show me where my wrong thinking was rooted so we could uproot it. I prayed that through the continuance of reading He would unmask the deception in my heart.

So what is the good news in the commentary when we find ourselves walking down this path with Adam and Eve (as I sure did)? “Sooner or later, it (sin) will bring shame, either shame of true repentance which ends in glory (best case scenario), or that shame and everlasting contempt, to which the wicked shall rise at the great day (I think we can agree this is the worst case scenario). See here what is commonly the folly of those that have sinned. They have more care to save their credit before men that to obtain their pardon from God.” Wow. I realized an ugly sin struggle from my past was manifesting itself in a new way here. Immediately I believe God showed me the root of my problem. Actually he showed me the seed and the whole blasted plant so that maybe I could share it with you, share a laugh, and help us remember that all bad fruit begins deep in our hearts with a seed and whole elaborate but sneaky process before sprouting into sin. I introduce to you from my own journal – my “Sin-flower“. You love the name at least – right? ūüėČ

Sin-Flower

1.) The Seed  of my Sin- Unbelief

I am humbled and convicted to begin more-actively exercising belief in all areas after being reminded by this article that the root of all sin is unbelief. I know this article calls it the root of all sin…but for my post and illustration – it is the seed. The very beginning. Unbelief that God is enough. In my case, it was – as the article author said – “refusal to believe in the rich provisional resources that are already ours in Christ‚Äďwe‚Äôre not believing that, by virtue of our Spirit-wrought union with Christ, everything we need and long for, we already possess.” If He provides something as insignificant as table decor for me – whoopty-do. Who actually cares? What difference does it make in the grand scheme of things? I know this may be such a ridiculous example, but I believe God knew it was a teachable moment for this child and that I would share it with you! :)

2.) The Root: Pride + Insecurity

I hate this one. All of my life I have struggled with insecurity entangled with pride. I want to impress people (pride) and, when I think others will be unimpressed or that I will be embarrased, I am insecure. This struggle mainly used to manifest in how I valued myself based on my self-image and performance as a photographer and I spent a good portion last year seeking God to help free me from that wrong-thinking with the truth of who I am in Him. So having already battled this, I was less than excited to see this lack of confidence in who God says I am popping up in how I feel about my household. After 5 moves in 5 years our furniture is looking less than snazzy. Chunks of certain furniture pieces are actually missing after this last move. I knew it made no sense logically to toss our furniture and replace it since this will not be the last of our moves and life will continue to wear on any furniture, so I wanted to try and do the next best thing to try and prevent myself from feeling insecure when having visitors. In my silly little way, apparenty table decorations would save the day. Gee.

3.) The Leaves

Matthew Henry notes on this story of Adam and Eve that “The excuses men make to cover and lessen their sin, are vain and frivolous; like the aprons of fig leaves (like Adam and Eve made), they make the matter never the better: yet we are all apt to cover our transgressions as Adam.”¬† The leaves of my own sin-flower were so appropriately compared to the leaves of Adam and Eve. They were my excuses or reasons I needed these innocent decorations. They were my attempts to justify, or cover, my wrong-thinking. And I did such a good job at this it is scary. I mean, it took taking a long time and a deep look to see the wrong in my heart after repeating things like “I just want a pretty table setting for when my family is here,” (why I must get it NOW), and “I am not asking for new furniture, so this is minor,” and manipulating the financial responsibility of purchasing something outside our decided budget by asking for an “early birthday present.”

4.) The Stem : Discontentment + Ungratefulness

When we focus on what we don’t have rather than all God has blessed us with, how discontent we become! How ungrateful we become for what God has so graciously and generously bestowed upon us as He sees fit for our best interest. Like holding the reins of a run away horse with white knuckles, before I knew it I was in a place of discontentment, a place I did not intend to be. Once I realized where I was, I had ask God to help me to skid to a stop.

5.) The Bud : Lust for things

I know it looks like a flower in my photo. Maybe it is. But I would like to say the bud of my sin-flower, or the progression of my bad fruit bearing, was the beginning of the actual obsession – my lust for things. Funny it was the last thing produced but the first thing I became aware of – and God had to work His way backwards from there. Lusting for things has not been a frequent routine for me as much as other things, so I am praying God keeps this from becoming a pattern in my life. While I believe He could nip this thing in the bud, I pray that He help me uproot every ugly destructive part of this weed so that I can only bear good fruit to His glory (John 15:8).

Perhaps the most beautiful thing in this messy experience for me was having lies revealed and holding my situation up to the light of the truth. As true as John 8:32 says, as soon as I was reminded of the truth and I allowed it to become a lens through which to view my desires, it was freeing. I was finally able to let my obsession go. Does this mean I wasn’t curious when an Ebay seller wrote me back or that I will never get a tablescape? Probably not. But it does mean I realized that when I do make any purchases or develop a desire things, it will not be a polite demand for things my way and in my timing. I want it to be in a healthy way and purchased with a pure heart and circumstances not manipulated by me. As you might imagine, I wrote my Mom (she and Bryan always get a laugh at my painstakingly humbling struggles) and shared this whole process with her concluding with “I do not want any decorations for my birthday anymore…but I do need a prayer journal since mine is filling up faster than expected.” ūüėÄ Oh my life – tell me I am not the only one.

John 15:2, in light of the Greek translation broken down here, can be paraphrased as “‚Ķmoreover for those in Him bearing fruit He will cleanse or purge of any undesirable elements so they can bear even more fruit of higher value”¬† Doesn’t that sound worth it?! I think if it could, even my basil plant would agree. ūüėČ

Do you have a similar story? I would love to hear from you! Email me! :)

 

 

 

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When I am Irritable

May 14th, 2015

**Though my example in the beginning is married folk…this one is not just for married people. Stick with me here! ūüėČ If you are married, you may very well experience days and weeks when things are wonderful. You and your spouse smile, laugh and enjoy fun things. You may also experience spurts of frustration. Perhaps […]

 

irritable-1

**Though my example in the beginning is married folk…this one is not just for married people. Stick with me here! ūüėČ

If you are married, you may very well experience days and weeks when things are wonderful. You and your spouse smile, laugh and enjoy fun things. You may also experience spurts of frustration. Perhaps you aren’t full blow out angry at one another too often, but sometimes it seems like everything the other person does simply irks you. Sometimes as a wife,¬†laundry, shoes, and dishes left throughout the house after we just picked up or cleaned can be exhausting. Yet often at the same time for men,¬†it can be the consistent nagging or mothering lectures from their wives that makes them weary and agitated. Sometimes one or both spouses feel the loving things we do to help our better half become expected rather than appreciated which begins to make us resentful.¬†I find in my own marriage we become most prone to irritability when one or both of us are tired, overwhelmed or under extra pressure at the time. I can only imagine (since we aren’t there yet) that this intensifies when children are involved as there can be even more responsibility and workload sharing between the two adults (a good example of this is here). Both spouses begin to seem demanding, easily angered and sensitive to each other’s criticisms that seem to just keep coming especially when life is stressful.¬†This happens in other relationships as well. Often things at work are amiable until there is a deadline with high stakes and all of you have your own idea of the best plan of attack, share of responsibility (or lack there of), and cooperation. Or maybe it is the friend, relative, or co-worker who is always on your case, who drains you of your patience and kindness, or who has a knack for being obnoxious just enough to make your eye twitch. ;( Or maybe you have just had a really bad day and a store’s customer service rep just happens to tick you off extra when they are rude, unhelpful or even insulting.

Either way, ¬†I hope I am not alone when I say that even though I long to show the love of Christ to everyone that I often find myself being irritable (especially to those close to me) – especially when I am having a “bad day”.

Do you ever feel justified to be irritated?

from Desiring God by John Piper

from Desiring God by John Piper

This past week I told myself – “I am just tired and overwhelmed with the mess of moving boxes still left to sort and the rest of the house being a wreck while the kitchen is installed,” along with multiple other reasons like “I wouldn’t need to nag if he’d just _A,B,C…X,Y, & Z_(Gee I guess I demand a lot sometimes)…and somehow I excused my “snappy” demeanor by just apologizing each time hoping I would cease being that way. The problem was¬†that I knew I was disappointed when my high standards weren’t met and I knew I wanted to seek a godly perspective on how to view and handle it. My excuse that I was¬†“just going through a lot” turned to shambles when an article writer reminded me that the worst parts of us are already in our hearts to begin with…they just¬†rise to the surface when under pressure.¬†Ew. I¬†began to feel convicted about it and I knew I wasn’t doing a good job of¬†snapping out of my snappiness on my own. So I began searching for the truth in God’s Word and what it says about¬†when we are irritable. I hate to tell you (especially if you find yourself in my shoes) but I realized how unlike Christ we are when we allow ourselves to become and remain irritable. And particularly related to marriage, I stumbled over a verse I could probably recite to you…but in a fresh way for my eyes. You know it –

“Love is PATIENT and KIND;

love does not envy or boast;

it is not arrogant or RUDE.

IT DOES NOT INSIST ON IT’S OWN WAY;

IT IS NOT IRRITABLE OR RESENTFUL; 

6it does not rejoice at wrongdoing,

but rejoices with the truth.

7LOVE BEARS ALL THINGS, BELIEVES ALL THINGS,

HOPES ALL THINGS, ENDURES ALL THINGS.‚Ä̬†(emphasis mine)

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‚ÄúBy this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.‚ÄĚ (John 13:35)

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‚ÄúLet your gentle spirit be known to all men.‚Ä̬†(Philippians 4:5)

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“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‚ÄĚ(James 1:19-20¬†emphasis mine)

 

Right about now is when I think –¬†gosh –¬†I know I started this blog to share God’s truth, I just wish it weren’t so often in the testimony of the uncomfortable correction to my heart! How messy! Haha. (LORD I did ask you to rid me of any and all pride.) Anyways, those of us who do not feel like gentleness is possible for our personality – praise Jesus that – through coming to Him – He gives us what we need. A life transformed and renewed by God’s Word and loving kindness is evidenced by patience, gentleness and kindness (among other things Gal. 5:22-23) and the Word tells us we have everything we need through His power – “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness,” (2 Peter 1:3). So I challenge you as I am challenging myself – if you find yourself deceived into a spirit of irritability, let us pray for God to give us the things we need to love one another in a way that all men can see that we are truly His. If you know you have been irritable and need to make things right, God’s Word tells us how to make things right with one another, with God and in us.

  1. Reconcile with the person or people you have been irritable or angry with. According to Matthew 5:22-25, God would have us do this even before coming to Him. Sometimes the most difficult and humbling words to choke out can be an apology (especially if you are not the only one in the wrong!) but our wrongs are all that we are responsible for…and at the end of the day – they are the only part of making¬†amends¬†that we are¬†responsible¬†and accountable for. I promise it will also give you a healthy dose of godly humility and will help rid you of your pride – which will most definitely make your Lord smile to see the chiseling of godly character happening in your heart. I¬†hated¬†apologizing recently to Bryan because I knew I would earn a smugly pleased little smile and even worse – he would be so perfectly forgiving making his actions look even better next to my ugly ones! We laughed about this one a good bit. ūüėȬ†
  2. Be ok with whatever the result. Sometimes the offended will accept your plea and forgive willingly. Sometimes they won’t. Accept that you’ve done what is right in God’s eyes to apologize with earnest desire to be more loving and patient and gentle and that you can’t control anyone’s response or reaction.
  3. Go to God’s throne of grace in prayer, confess, repent and ask for forgiveness. And receive it!¬†He already knows, and is ready and waiting to move forward with you to who you are becoming through this.¬†
  4. ¬†Confidently receive forgiveness and cleansing and sin no more!¬†A genuinely repentant heart will willingly walk a new path seeking to flee temptation to continue with what God has already brought to light and dealt with in your heart. You make make mistakes along the way – but keep going through this reconciliation process and praying and depending on God to help you become free of the habitual cycle. You should not have any lingering guilt or shame because God’s mercy and forgiveness are complete. If you do – it is a red flag that the accuser is deceiving you and I would suggest this 3-part blog I wrote here – #1, #2, and #3.¬†

I would love to suggest some awesome resources to help with this particular – sometimes daily – struggle. The book Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst was wonderful – I may need to re-read it time and again! These articles really opened my eyes and provided fresh reminders:

For married people in particular I would also highly recommend this article, as well as the book The Love Dare, The Love Dare Day by Day Couples’ Devotional, and/ or¬†The Love Dare for Parents.

I choose gentleness… Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle.

If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer.

If I make a demand, may it be only of myself. ‚ÄĚ
‚ÄĒ Max Lucado