BE WARNED–RAMBLING HERE!
I thoroughly enjoy the Word taught at our church home. I’ve been in church all of my life (though church wasn’t always in me), but we have been especially blessed in the last ten years. Like any church, ours has its shortcomings and dysfunction, but the Word, aaahhh, the Word—it’s rich, it’s powerful, and it’s heart-piercing. Our pastor has been dealing with who we are before, and often after we are saved. Dependent upon our church upbringing, we are commonly taught, or I should say, mis-taught, that every demon we had before we are saved immediately leaves us once Jesus enters our hearts. Sometimes when this doesn’t happen, people will refer to it as a “bad” salvation experience (as opposed to a “good” salvation experience). Our continued desire to smoke, or to commit fornication, or to gossip or murmur is symbolic of this alleged bad experience. The honest truth is that, short of God’s healing and deliverance, the same demons that chased us before the Lord found us are the same demons that will haunt us after the Lord found us. The Word shows us that, though he walked with Jesus, Judas remained greedy and self-centered. Even Eve and then Adam, with the potential to be more spiritually intimate with God than anyone in the Bible, did not trust Him to give them all that they needed. There are areas of our lives that we must nail to the cross; we must cry out to God to remove some things from us that hinder us in ministering to others what Christians should look like.
I believe in my whole heart that people like the lady who recently killed her 8-year-old, whom the media made a point of listing as a Sunday School teacher, could have used such a word in her life. I imagine that she, too, wore the “mask,” as one of our associate pastors calls it, of many Christians, a mask that only gives allowance to more clever demons. One of my sincerest prayers over me and others is that the Lord would reveal to us who we are. I know He sees us through the blood of Jesus, but I also know from the book of John that the Lord desires to prune our branches, making us more like Him and less like ourselves. Even our fruitful branches are sometimes clipped that we may become more fruitful.
I deal every day with the filth that lies within me, left to my own devices. One way that I walk more intimately with Christ is to eliminate negative people in my life. In fact, when our Bible study took a survey recently regarding our Kingdom-building strengths and weaknesses, my weakness was in the area of evangelism. It was eye-opening, and I had to face facts about the good and the bad of my decision: I don’t welcome strangers into my life (though my Southern roots keep me from being completely stand-offish), and I watch people especially closely when it comes to the kids. What I want most to avoid are people who have a negative outlook on life and who constantly seem to find the not-so-good side of any situation you can name. I have to learn how to balance my protective nature with a mandate to reach others for Jesus.
The superhero and I have, for some strange reason, had our share of complaining spirits to deal with this week. As we grow closer to the dance recital, I hear more and more resentment about the various activities that become par for the course when kids are a part of a dance program. Someone always has an idea regarding how to make a great costume even more spectacular, so once you get them, you still have to become Quick Draw McGraw with a glue gun, or a sewing machine—that is, if you can sew. There are fees on top of tuition so that we all help pay for the facility, security, etc. I’ve lost track of how many new pairs of tights I have to buy—pink for this costume, fishnet for that, and what shade of tan for that other number. Then there’s always the annual 15-rounds over the chosen hairstyle to coordinate with the costume. As I listened to three ladies, who’ve all been there multiple years, go on and on and on (UUUUUUGGGGHHHH!!) about everything they hate about the dance center, even down to the $2 admission fee—fundraiser/ crowd control—I had to bite my tongue. If you hate it that much, why not just leave and find someplace where you can be more positive? Of course, I can say that on the other side of my own frustrations, posted here on last December. Yet, even when I complained, I didn’t go running my mouth and ruining someone else’s experience; I went to God with it, and boy, did He answer. I have shared with another parent some of my own concerns, but I always bear in mind that this is an activity that the kids absolutely love, and like all of us, I’m more than willing to make sacrifices to see them in an activity that they’re getting so much out of—good health, happiness, and a positive self image, to name only a few benefits. There are so many places that they could be, and so many things they could be into that won’t make them better people.
My husband had a similar experience with a new job that will begin on next week (more on that in another blog post). There are websites within his industry where people can chat online and share their experiences with a particular company. The comments often range from pessimistic to cynical at best, and are rarely positive. Somehow, he found future co-workers who lost touch with what a blessing it is to have a job right now, and they instead began to focus on all that they weren’t getting, and how they could only commit a half-effort to what they perceive as a half-step opportunity. Did you fall and bump your head, I’m thinking when I hear people complain about a blessing. I’m learning that power of the tongue thing, so I don’t say it—much.
I once read a wonderful post about someone setting the homeschool environment for happiness, down to dancing with a broom. Though I stop short of waltzing with cleaning utensils, I do understand the power of positive thinking. In courses I teach, the term is “learned optimism,” and it is a documented way to handle stress. I think the focus on the word “learned” is intentional. I can remember a time in my life when my closest friends were complainers; I drove myself crazy. I’d notice that nothing was ever right with me. I could find the negative, the bad, the suspicious in any situation, and if I couldn’t voice it to someone else, I’d talk about it to myself. There’s something long-lasting about spitting venom into the air. It can change your entire atmosphere.
It’s no different when it comes to home and school, especially when they happen to be one-in-the-same. I’ve had a number of reasons to complain—the kids have had what I can safely call an off-week with school, and that manifests itself in having to work over the weekend, constant trails of “Sorry, Mom, I forgot to __________________ (insert your chore: put up clothes, pick up toys, make my bed, put dishes in the sink, etc.).” It’s also been a crazy weekend that got so hectic until I was up at 5:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning deveining shrimp—did I fall and bump my head? We have to make a choice each day over whose report will we believe. I’m praying for the Lord to increase my rest tonight so that the days don’t catch up to me. I’m praying to choose to focus on the good things according to Philippians 4:8-10. There are so many ways that we’ve been blessed this week, and I will not give way to the complaint lodgers around me. May He bless your week as well!