Thursday, September 1, 2011

Trying, Failing, and Needing Grace

They know how to push my buttons.

What starts as a minor sense of disgruntlement, quickly shifts to intensely frustrated, reactive behavior.

And sometimes I wonder how on earth someone so much younger, less wise, and so small - can manage to control me so easily!

So I walk away from another fruitless, ineffective lecture; flustered and worn down - and I retreat, hiding in my room; face-down on the bed, begging God to help me, change me...

I can't do this "mothering" thing.  I don't say the right things and I am overcome by my selfishness and pride when I should be the one teaching and leading and guiding my kids into maturity.

I'm immature and I overreact.  I feel like I need to have a tantrum! and really, I just need to disperse of the yucky, sinful, me-focused person that wants to rule my emotions and behavior.

On Sunday, it was explained that the purpose of Christianity is primarily 'dying to self'.  The whole point of serving Jesus, is not that we get whatever we want, and that we get to be immune from this mucked up, sin-diseased world, but we are now fully His (our lives belong to Him) by a choice to believe and SURRENDER.

I was reading 1 John 2, and was drawn to verses 3-5 which say:  
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.  He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.
Often, I've read this passage and told myself: I must not love Jesus enough... I'm so far from being like Him and His character just isn't evident in my life!  This seems even more obvious when I think of how often I lack grace in my reaction to my kids and my spouse.

So I press into the idea that I MUST become more obedient. That's the ticket, isn't it?  Even non-believers can agree that Jesus taught principles for living that can benefit all of mankind.  Selflessness, sacrifice, giving to those in need, and laying down my life... if I could just follow all of the guidelines, then I would be better!

This just isn't how it works, though.  What I saw in these couple of verses was not an accusation and demand for more obedience.  What I am dealing with isn't an obedience issue!  In actuality, my issue is concerning love

If the love of God was truly within me, then I would treat others respectfully, be patient and kind and I would raise my kids with an abundance of grace.  When I attempt to "do" all the right things, and tell myself to act a certain way, to "obey" all the New Testament guidelines, I am, as they say "putting the cart before the horse".

Love is what must dictate my actions.

This leaves me exposed, naked and helplessly human - for I know that I simply can not do this (be a mother, friend, lover) by stubbornness, will and determination.  I am parched soil, desperately yearning for the gift of God's love and grace to be poured out upon me.

As I cried out my frustration this morning, instead of asking God to change my children and stop them from being "brats", I asked God to just LOVE me.  It's me who needs a revolution.  I'm the problem!  I'm insecure - and out of my brokenness, I lash out at others when I should be leaking out the love and grace that was freely given to me through the cross.

Additionally, I turned to gratitude.  Part of knowing His love is seeing the blessing that surrounds me.  It's seeing those loud, healthy, lively children with their keen minds and quick wit and even when I feel at the end of my rope, they are still a blessing.  By gratitude, I begin to see God clearly, seeing all that He Is and has given to me, and I will be settled and made secure in His love.

The biggest issue of all, is my belief in His love. 

This song "The Love Of God" played by Ascend The Hill, seems to encapsulate the message I'm wrestling with today.  Sometimes we just need to steep ourselves in the very idea of God's love, accepting it and allowing it to wash over our worn-out emotions.   I recommend that you close your eyes, listen, and allow the words to penetrate your heart... that you might glimpse and retain the reality of God's love for you.

"As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love." (Jesus, John 15:9)

 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

...that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height--  to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:17-19)

Do I, and will I believe?

Desperately driven by my desire to change, I must believe.  It's my only hope!

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