Due to my procrastination and a lack of communication I found myself anxious and alone on an otherwise serene June night. The anxiety became angry and then I did exactly what the Bible warns us not to do. In my anger, I sinned. My anger, or at least frustration, was justified but where it went next was not. I texted wildly, madly and to a recipient who was driving and shouldn’t have been looking at a cell phone. It was a cowardly, desperate and selfish act. I texted things I never would have said, words I can’t delete from a phone and heart that don’t belong to me. I texted how I felt but then didn’t stop. I went on to make accusations rooted in fear. My pain and insecurities had taken a subtle and vengeful turn that I hardly noticed. All too often in this life we fashion glistening daggers out of our pain, offer poison fruit we’ve watered with the soft gentle rains of our resentment. Too often we continue the cycle of hurt because we feel entitled to feel it. We don’t break the cycle because we’d rather indulge in playing the victim. And here (we think) we reign, comfortable and victorious.
So fast forward through a day of agonizing silences, awkward conversations and arguments that don’t see resolution anywhere between here and Lake Michigan. And then there is a breakthrough, an idea of how to go on. We find a life raft of forgiveness that we both flop into and just lay there, exhausted.
The next day is spent trying peace on for size. We practice calmly being in each others presence. We both end up on the deck reading, we attempt a stupid-hard pilates video. Still a glum fog of disappointment about our shared hurts, about how hard it is to love someone you know so well, about the back-breaking weight of marriage shrouded most everything on another beautiful June day.
This is Sunday, the third day. I was ready to march my newly contrite heart into that sanctuary and worship. Except that we were made late by a seven year-old that didn’t want to wear shoes that fit her but did want to lock herself in her room and stand her ground. Until she didn’t and then she wanted to change her outfit. She was still brooding in church. She was sitting during worship when all the Jesus loving mamas want their kids up and out of their seat singing. But I wasn’t going to pick a fight. I was going to sing some praises.
And then while singing I noticed a woman playing the cello up front. I pointed it out to my daughter but had to lift her up to see. And then came a realization: this is what God was doing for me a few days ago. Jesus lifts me right up, even while I’m still in my anxious, ugly funk. While I’m inward and angry and hurting someone I love, he lifts me so I can see. Even as I’m knee-deep in the muck of my dirtiest trick he loves me this way. After she saw, she started singing and I didn’t want to put her down. I just wanted to sing with her even though she was so heavy. I wanted to hold her because I was learning in that moment that I was just like her. In my sin God lifts me up out of myself and draws me close because he wants to show me something. And then we end up singing together, and even though I’m a bit off key, its beautiful music to him.
Now the point of this is not to say I’m like God of course, but in Christian parenting there are moments when you’re telling your child something, but also thinking about how this is what God is trying to tell you. Exasperated, I’ll say something like “Why can’t you just listen and do what I say? There is a reason why I’m asking for you to do something even if you don’t know what that reason is.” Hmmmm. I know I’m not alone in getting these insights because my mom has told me the same thing has happened to her on occasion. It’s divinely creative and amazing the way these parallels are pointed out to us, the way we receive this wisdom. Its like we are living breathing allegories or parables.
Oh blessed Holy Spirit, these moments are not lost on us.