It seems like the past few days, God has been doing a little house-cleaning in my heart. I've been convicted daily about various things, but the sweet part about it is that I recognized it for what it is -- God just trying to shore up my heart -- and didn't spend days lamenting my erroneous ways and diving into the pool of guilt.
The first thing that God and I worked on last week was my drinking habits. I'm not a lush by any means, but I realized I had gotten to a point where at the end of the day I would readily look forward to a glass (or two) of wine. Two weeks ago, I started thinking about a fast and if God was calling me to do one (and if so, for what purpose). Then, last week, I read one of the devotionals in Heart of My Heart by Kristin Armstrong. She writes, "A fast from anything removes its ownership over you and places it in the context of being owned by God. It is a way to gain mastery over the things we struggle with." The point is that I caught myself in this line of thinking that I needed a glass of wine to get through the rest of the night -- the fixing dinner, the bathing of children, the reading of books, getting them to stay in bed, etc. What I needed, though, instead was to rely on God to help me to engage myself more fully in the process instead of hiding out from it. What I needed was His strength, His energy, His love and not a worldly indulgence that can numb my senses and take the edge off. The fast served the purpose of making sure that the wine was still subject to me and that I was not subject to it. Being that alcoholism runs in both sides of my family, well, it's just a good test to take sometimes.
The second thing that has just wrung my heart was brought to my attention by Armstrong's devotional entry for yesterday. The Bible verse is Proverbs 12:18, which says "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." In her words, she states, "Even when we are frustrated, we must be mindful to choose words that are life-giving and that build a child's identity, not strip it down." Immediately, the image of my oldest daughter's face popped into my mind -- the look upon it when I know that I have hurt her with my short temper, my exasperated voice. It crushed my heart, that image. I am so guilty of getting caught up in my moment, of living in my world where I must get things done, I must finish this, I must, I must, I must. I become a whirlwind and when someone gets in my path, I leave disaster in my wake. Even when I am frustrated -- even when I have heard the word "Mommy" fifteen times in fifteen seconds. Even when I have gotten this, made that. Even when I have shuttled this person here and that person there. Even when this is the fourth time I've tried to sit down to work. Even when...I must choose words that are life-giving. I must use the opportunity to love. After praying through this for much of the day, I realized that it doesn't mean that I need to meet their demands with a sugary-sweet Well, of course, my darlings! It doesn't even mean that I must meet their demands at all if that is not warranted. I think it just means having enough self-control so that I don't completely lose it and risk tearing them down. Soooo glad there is grace and forgiveness in these relationships or I'd be in trouble! Perhaps I should put aside the college-tuition account and instead focus on the therapy account.
Can't wait to read about what's going on with you!