I did something awful today. Well, two things really. Okay, I probably did more than two awful things today, but I feel convicted about these two things. We attended the National Day of Prayer gathering at our city’s court-house. Several different pastors and church leaders led prayers for our federal, state and local governments, as well as our churches, families and the sick. It was moving to see so many gathered together to lift up our nation and community to the Lord. But two of the chosen speakers bothered me. It was how they were praying. It didn’t suit my tastes and preferences. I actually had a difficult time listening to them. In fact, that was the very problem. I was listening to them…not the Lord. I was critiquing their words, their delivery, their style. I was sure that the way they were praying was wrong.
But, I was wrong. At least they had good intentions. At least their love for the Lord was evident and clear. I, on the other hand, had unkindness in my heart. Mistrust. A flippant attitude. Judgmental. Even anger. I was so wrong. I did an awful thing.
And then I did another awful thing…I talked about it with someone else. I shared my judgmental thoughts openly with friends. They were gracious and laughed it off (thank-you!), but I was still very, very wrong. And the conviction settled in almost immediately. Ever want to chase your words down the street and force them back into your mouth as if they had never been uttered? I felt like I had foot-in-mouth syndrome. The shame was pretty weighty.
So, I asked for forgiveness and for help to tame my tongue and I felt better. Much, much better. The kind of better that only comes from facing your sin and then handing it over to the Lord. The weight was gone.
This afternoon, two of our girls got into an argument. They had been playing some imaginary game outdoors and from the blood-curdling screaming, I thought someone had surely died or was about to. The gist of the argument was that one sister didn’t like the way the other sister was singing the song that went to their made-up game. She was so offended by the other sister’s tone of voice or intonation or misspoken lyrics that she called her a bad name. I didn’t even know that my girls knew the phrase “dirt bag….” Then the offending sister started to cry and the offended sister started screaming and that’s when I appeared on the scene to see who had been murdered.
Once the entire story was unraveled, I could see that God was weaving some truth into my heart. My girls were having the same sort of struggle I was. Durn. I really almost hate it when that happens. I want better for them. Or maybe I want to have behavior slightly more mature than a 4 and 6-year-old…
So we took a breather, chewed some gum and had a talk about kindness and generosity and about being open to how God might use someone else to do something that we are already good at, but in a different way. And that’s okay. And it doesn’t have to float our boat. And we worship the Gift-Giver, not the gift. And we show love to each other, especially and always when someone is doing their very best for Jesus. And we prayed. And then I hugged them more times than they probably wanted, but I did it anyway because I think they and I both needed those hugs.
Father, Thanks for teaching me. Thanks for loving me. Thanks for making us all so different. Please cultivate compassion and grace in my heart and in the hearts of my children. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.