Me: “Well, I noticed you’re not in a great mood, and I just want you to be happy.”
Him: “Are you sure you don’t just want to be happy, and it’s easier for you to be happy when I’m happy too?”
(He does this thing where he says something without thinking, watches me closely for a reaction, sees my eyes cloud over, and quickly begins to laugh and say “I’m just messing around”. This was one of those times.)
I was livid. What a….(expletives galore). Does he think that just because HE is heartless it means that there’s no way I could just care about him because I see he’s down? Does he really think I’m that selfish? With all I do for him? REALLY? All of the laundry and the cooking and the cleaning and waking up all night every night with the baby and letting him take naps even though I’m exhausted too? I can’t believe I am a victim of such cruelty. Just because it takes him a WEEK to notice if I’m in a bad mood doesn’t mean I don’t notice when someone around me is down! I care! I really care! I have a big heart and I care and I love just like I’m supposed to!
After I was done being as mad as a hornet, I was terrified. I know enough to know that when something gets my blood boiling to that extent, I better look a little deeper to find out why it’s such a sore spot for me. So I was terrified because I knew there was some serious truth in what he said. It was like he took his finger, looked for that ONE button I was trying desperately to hide, found it, and pushed it 100 times like a little kid learning how to ring the doorbell for the first time. Oh no....he knows the truth!!!
I know that somehow, he was just kidding, and not thinking. He definitely didn’t mean to rip out any vital organs with his statement. He surely did not and still has not spent time thinking this over like I have. But none of that really matters, because he reminded me of something oh-so-important.
I’m a sinner, and I’m a mess. I still need that reminder. I still need that reminder all the time apparently, even when it comes in the form of a great, big, OUCH. How like the truth, right?
I want to be justified so badly. I want all the things I do to be enough. Enough for my husband, for my kids, for my friends, and for my Heavenly Father. My natural instincts tell me that I must earn the love of all of these by my own greatness, by keeping up the appearance of a true and pure heart and care for my fellow man, proved by all my good deeds.
This is a lie. God crush the liar in me, the masker, the Pharisee who keeps up appearances and blows the trumpet (even if only to my own ego) whenever I do a good deed.
The truth is that it’s messy. My primary role in my life right now is to nurture my family and my marriage. I do this because I want to, because this is what God has set before me, these are my gifts to take care of and my responsibilities to manage with His help. I want to do things for their health and well-being, I desire a marriage that honors God, I hope for a family that serves Him. I love them dearly.
But I’m still good old me! And that’s where the mess begins. I cook and clean and do laundry because it benefits my family, but also because it benefits me, and I hate a messy house. The boys in my house do NOT care if the beds are made, but I do it “for them”.
I do want my husband to be happy just because he’s my husband, but also because his unhappiness speaks to my inability to fix (control) everything around me. And yes, this reality does indeed affect my own happiness. Apparently I am that selfish. So I see, as I try to love God and love the people around me, that I do a lot of the right things for both right and wrong reasons. Again I’m reminded that I’m just not Jesus.
Sometimes it is scary to get this honest, because I would really rather live in the “I’m a good person” delusion. How comforting. How much more control I feel I have while in this delusion. The truth shatters my delusion of control and renders me powerless. I cannot make myself good. I am powerless and I am guilty.
The Bible confirms that I am, by nature, a mess of sin and distortion. It also tells me that I don’t have to find my identity in my deeds, nor earn God’s love by looking like I do the right things all of the time. That’s a good thing, because wow I get tired, especially when someone like my husband penetrates my good-Christian wife/mother/friend mask.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that none can boast” (Eph 2:8).
Either Jesus died for all of my sins, every day, and for all of yours, or he died for some other reason we don’t understand. It’s done or it’s not. I either have to desperately work for it, or I don’t. I believe we don’t.
So I continue forward hoping and sincerely wanting to do things that please God. I think this is the natural outpouring of relationship with Christ, but it comes from Christ first, not from me. My sick self cannot somehow wrestle health and wholeness out of my sick self. So God save me from boasting, because even my best works are pretty much a mess. I will fail, my heart will not always be right, self creeps in. But he continues to work in all of us, praise God. Thanks Theo, for my much needed piece of humble pie this week.
Dear Lord, please help me remember this week that my identity rests in being Your Child and in what You have done for me, not in all the not-so-great things I do for myself. Help me to serve you and to do what you want me to do even though my heart is not always right. Help me in my selfishness.