After my day of irritability on Sunday and a refreshing morning away on Monday, I thought I was good-to-go for the week. My last morning away seemed to give me the energy for a week, so surely this one would at least buy me a few days. How depressed I was when I realized that it only took about five minutes to be irritated again once I got home.
I’m realizing how often I treat my quiet time with Jesus as if I’m earning some points or should get a return on my investment or something. Spend time with the Lord – check. Have sweet, well-behaved children for the rest of the day – yes, please. Yet for some reason 🙂 it never seems to work that way. It’s almost as if I pray for grace and patience and the Spirit decides that the best way to teach me those things is to actually give me opportunities to use them. I think a quiet time is essential, absolutely. It is essential to fill me up and give me the strength I need to walk in the Spirit that day. But I still have to choose to walk in the Spirit – it doesn’t magically correct my circumstances. It doesn’t make me well-rested or energized or make children behave perfectly and nap at the same time. Sadly, lately it has felt only like a losing battle.
Well, yesterday, I read this blog and was deeply convicted. How often do I treat my irritability as a fact of life with littles instead of as the sin that it is? Seeing it as a failure to love makes me so sad. Of course I love my husband! Of course I love my children! But what if they defined love by my actions? Ouch.
Several weeks ago, I realized that my mind is that of a crazy person and if I didn’t start filling it with better things only bad things could happen. So I embarked on a really neat journey of memorizing pertinent passages of Scripture – Luke 12:22-34, Philippians 4:4-8, 1 Peter 5:6-10, Ephesians 4:1-2, Psalm 90:14. I started to really experience the renewal of my mind, becoming consumed with love for God and His word. It’s been sweet. Like Jesus is my friend and in those dark moments He is whispering His truth and comfort to me, encouraging me to press on. Anyway. The most recent passage I’ve been working on is Colossians 3:1-17. And a couple of weeks ago, I “mastered” it. (If you can even say that about Scripture. What a shame that I can know it by heart and yet live it so poorly.) And for some reason, instead of embarking on my next passage, I took a break.
Let me just tell you. You can’t take a break from truth. Because lies are just waiting waiting waiting and before you know it they’ve taken over the place. And while a quiet time may not be magic, abiding in Scripture all day long is close to it. It may not make children behave but it sure can show you your sin right then and there. The word of God is alive and active. It renews our minds. It can dwell in us richly, filling us with wisdom and thankfulness in our hearts to God. Anyway. It’s powerful stuff in a heart that belongs to Jesus.
So this morning I revisited Colossians 3, and in light of the blog I read yesterday, I was struck by verse 14: “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” And then there’s 1 Peter 4:8: “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” So I went to 1 Corinthians 13, and even though I was sure I had read it enough times to know it by heart, the words stung a little. My failure to love was so painfully clear, despite my attempts at Super Servant Wife and Mom.
So THEN I thought of Ginny Owens. Now, I have no idea if knowing who she is makes me old or too Contemporary Christian or if she’s actually cool. 🙂 But she has this song called, “I am nothing” that pretty much nails it. As a wife and mom and sister and friend I spend all this time doing “loving” things…all this time I count as “points for me” on the “I’m-such-a-servant” scale. But who cares if it’s not out of love? It’s nothing.
Above all. That’s the answer, I think. Love.
But love has to come from somewhere, right? I’m still not going to just muster it up. Especially not the kind 1 Corinthians 13 describes.
Jordan recently shared with me the idea that when tempted to judge someone else’s sin, I ought to turn it upon myself and consider how deeply I’ve offended God. Well, I’ve got quite a few years on Hadley. Pretty sure my list of offenses would be much longer than hers.
If you, O Lord, kept a record of sin, who could stand?
So I think when tempted to be unloving, I ought to consider what grace compelled God to love a sinner such as me. If He can love me, how can I not love?
I don’t know. Pretty soon, the girls will wake up from their naps and will put me immediately to the test. But it’s the new lesson Jesus is writing on my heart:
Above all these, put on love.