It’s raining and the hearts in my home are a mess of raw emotions– mostly anger. A contentious woman is like a continual dripping, Solomon said, and I’m sure he was right, but this morning in this house it’s all contention and the dripping outside wears away at us all.
Within minutes of “Good morning,” one child is in tears because of the unkindness of another child. There is blame and yelling and sharp words. Moments later, a Lego creation goes crashing off the dining room table, and pieces have gone missing, and all is not well. Soon no one is speaking to anyone else, and it’s all because of those stupid expensive sharp-cornered plastic pieces. At least that’s my feeling.
Up to my elbows in dishwater, I briefly consider banning all the Legos– just breaking apart the X-wing and the spaceships and the hair salon and the fire station, putting all the pieces in one huge tote and listing them on eBay or giving them away to an underprivileged kid who would actually appreciate them.
With a sigh I decide that’s probably an overreaction.
What’s a mama to do when she woke up too early and felt unprepared for the day even before the kids woke up with their minor major catastrophes? When her heart is just as prone to the temper tantrums and the outbursts of anger and the frustration over the little things?
Last night we talked at Bible study about temptation and attacks and our adversary who sees our new resolve to walk in obedience and attacks with no holds barred. Last night I reflected on how God has been changing my speech patterns and softening them with grace, especially towards my children. Last night when my glass pitcher was knocked to the ground and shattered, I spoke kindly to my weeping daughter– “It’s just a thing. I love you”— and I knew that God has been working in me.
This morning I woke up and knew beyond a shadow that an attack was imminent. I could feel it in my weakness and recognize it in my pride. Oh, how very prone I am to pride. One small victory and I’m quite convinced of my own remarkableness. As the unkind words bite back and forth from the lips of my children, I feel my own anger rising. Here is a chink in my armor– this pride that says that I have mastered my words and surely my children can too. This taking of credit for the work of God. This unreasonable expectation. This tired frame that is so impatient– that reacts with instant frustration when my children speak harshly to each other.
How can this one, so weak and so easily irritated and wearing armor so full of holes, ever possibly speak life-words to these little hearts? One child a bristling fortress of anger, one child falling into near hysteria, one screaming and taking offense at every perceived slight. And one mama, just wanting to go back to bed on a rainy morning.
This God of mine– He is the answer. Of course. Always. If only I could remember immediately, instead of after the rankling sharp words and the sarcasm and the empty threats have shot from my lips. I can’t be what my family needs, but He can. And He is strength in weakness.
My enemy knows all the chinks– the weak spots– in my patched-together armor, but so does my Savior. And all those holey places have the very real potential to be holy places– to be filled up with the sufficient grace and strength of the God who, as a dear friend used to say to me, knows my dust and loves me anyway. I am not enough, but HE IS.
We sit around the kitchen table with our eggs and bagels and cereal and one giant green smoothie and I read to my children about who our God is:
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
O Lord my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
covering yourself with light as with a garment,
stretching out the heavens like a tent. . . .
O Lord, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures. . . .
These all look to you,
to give them their food in due season.
When you give it to them, they gather it up;
when you open your hand, they are filled with good things. . . .
May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
may the Lord rejoice in his works . . . .
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
May my meditation be pleasing to him,
for I rejoice in the Lord.
Here is the answer, then, to a day started wrong, to a morning when I feel like there is not enough of me to deal with the crises and the anger and the tiredness. My God, who made heaven and earth, who designed with mere words whole ecosystems that intricately provide food and life for huge varieties of created, who set the moon in place and leads the seasons in procession without fail– He knows me intimately and He provides what is good for me as well. He says look to Him and not to the mess of markers on the floor, the missing Legos, the snide comments from the lips of my children.
He provides the self-control for a deep breath instead of an angry outburst when yet another Lego conglomeration crashes from the dining room table, when brothers won’t help sister, when arithmetic is all about attitude problems instead of addition. He gives grace for open arms and hugs when what I want is to push away, to retreat to my own bed, my book, and to ignore and, yes, even to shun my own children. Because my flesh is so weak.
When my armor is more holes and broken places than not, He is there, and He doesn’t just patch the weak places– He becomes the patch for the weak place, if I let Him. My adversary can attack but if I yield to the Spirit of God, every dart aimed at a weak spot in my armor is aimed at the very strength of my Lord, mighty to save.
Today my fight is words and weariness. Tomorrow it will be another battle, but the battle belongs to the Lord. And in this battle, when I am so unable to meet the challenge, when I am aware of my very deep weakness, I am called Overcomer, because of God, who through Jesus Christ daily gives victory– victory over shame, over fear, over loneliness, over grief, over anger, over addiction, over pride– over whatever sin I fall to.
He is God my Strength– my Strong Tower. I run to Him and there I am safe.