I Totally Blew It Today

Family Photo copyI’d had it “UP TO HERE”! I was tired. The girls were tired. I could hear the voices being raised in the other room as my frustration rose in the kitchen. My ten-year-old and eight-year-old, who usually are best friends and favorite playmates, had been going at each other for three days and I was weary of playing referee. My ten-year-old burst through the door in tears, but I stopped her before she could present her case.

“I don’t want to hear it.”

“But Mama…”

“I said I don’t want to hear it. Get back in there and get ready for VBS.”

Yep. Vacation Bible School. You know, the week-long event where our children get to learn more about Jesus and how to be a greater witness for Him (Big Sigh).

She hung her head and walked out. Seconds later I heard the shouting resume. Reason seemed to evade my pre-coffee brain and I stormed onto the scene:

“What is going ON in here!… I’m not putting up with this ANY longer!… Don’t talk back to me!…

And my words were hurled like daggers into my children’s spirits. I never took a breath to ask what had caused the uproar. All I knew was that my quiet had been pierced and now they somehow deserved the blasting they got. After all, hadn’t I heard enough of the whining and arguing lately? Hadn’t I been patient long enough? Hadn’t I taught them better? Hadn’t I…?

At that moment, it almost occurred to me that I was looking into the eyes of two little girls who were more confused by my outburst than convicted of their error. It almost occurred to me that I’d missed a teachable moment and instead created an overwhelming one. But I pushed it to the corners of my conscious. After all, it was time to go. The girls gathered their things and plodded to the truck with shoulders slumped and tears brimming.

And then I got it:

How dare I! How dare I pour frustration out on tender hearts? How dare I start their day with my disdain?

I got behind the wheel and I saw their crushed spirits in the rear-view mirror. I tried to salvage what I could of our morning. I told them how much I love them and that I was sorry I didn’t listen, sorry I got angry, so sorry. It sounded hollow. But they smiled and said it was okay.

But it was not okay to me. I can’t make it okay on my own, but I’ve learned through the years who can.

So we prayed.

We bowed our heads and asked God to forgive Mommy for not being more like Him and asked Him to help my sweet girls do the same. He did. And they did.

Today I blew it. Today and everyday, I’m grateful for a God who never runs out of patience with me. Who listens to all my whining and arguing and responds with gentleness. And I’m grateful that He hears my repentant heart every time and redeems what I can not. When placed before Him, he mends what is broken and restores what is lost.

I write this because I want you to know that we are all flawed, but God’s “mercies are new every morning” (Lamentation 3:23) and you need not carry the guilt of this day into the next. He saw it from the cross and carried it for you. I pray you have the courage to believe that His grace not only covers your weakness, but empowers you to better tomorrows.

 

 

Is God Mad at You?

Family Photo copyI simultaneously felt the heat rise to my face by the implication and the doubt take root in my heart as the question was raised, “Well is God mad at you?” I was smack in the midst of some of the most troubling experiences I’ve ever had. I was broken and beaten up by loss, disappointment, disillusionment, and confusion. I needed hope and I needed compassion. Instead, I received blame.

Despite being a recipient of God’s amazing grace and love for many years, that question echoed in my mind for some time as I weighed the scales of God’s mercy against His judgement and I feared I was more deserving of the judgement. Why shouldn’t God be mad at me? I claim to know Him, but often don’t look like it. I fall far too often and I make so many mistakes. I blow it with my husband, my kids, and my friends all the time. Maybe He was just tired of it. Maybe His mercy had run out and all this heartache was my own doing because God was angry.

If similar questions have found their way into your heart, please let me tell you it has no basis. Mamas, you love your children. They often may make you angry. But let me ask you, do you spend your nights seeking ways to “get back at them” and “make them pay” or do you cry and long for their best no matter what? The word says in Psalm 103:8, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love,” and that He has an everlasting love and unfailing kindness (Jeremiah 31:3 NIV). Does this sound like a God who takes delight in causing you pain?

I know what a good daddy looks like. Perhaps you don’t. Perhaps you believe God is often mad at you because you knew what it was like to have an earthly father who was mad at you, but it is not an accurate perception. My father was not perfect, but he was loving and kind and gave me the ability to understand my Father in Heaven in that light. When I failed (and I failed often and I failed big), my father’s heart broke. He sought ways to restore me, not break me. Though he often had to punish me, it was full of mercy and it was meant to bring me good not harm. That is how God operates.

So what of punishment? While God may let us suffer the consequences of our choices, He does not make bad things happen to us. Your suffering is not a sign that God is angry at you. It is a sign that you can trust the words of Jesus who says in John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” He wanted us to know why troubles come (because we are in this world, not because God is angry) and that because He had overcome, we could find our hope in Him. All of our hurt in this world offered to God is never wasted. He says, “I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow” (Jeremiah 31:13). Believe it and run to Him in hope and not away from Him in fear. Then, watch what He will do.

I have heard women say they are certain they had a miscarriage (or other traumatic experience) because God was paying them back for past living. This is an absolute myth. My friends, whenever you are tempted to believe your hurt is due to God’s anger, please know that is one of the greatest lies on earth. Our circumstances may be due to our own choices like being in debt because we’ve made poor spending decisions, or being out of favor with someone because we’ve been selfish. They are NOT because of God’s wrath. He is waiting to help us, guide us, and love us through the worst of our mistakes and struggles.

Is God angry with me? Absolutely not! And He is not angry with you either. Please let the truth sink in deep today. No matter what you’ve done in the past or what you struggle with today, He loves you and He is for you. Message me anytime you struggle to believe it.

 

 

 

The Dangerous World of “If Only”

Rita Clucas smI remember the 6th grade like it was yesterday. After all, I walked its halls many years after I left its classrooms. It was the year that changed my life forever—the year that the boys noticed I didn’t look like the other girls who hadn’t developed quite as much over the summer. It was the year that I began to hate the fact that no matter how good my grades were or how soft my heart was, my body had become the focal point and subsequently the catalyst for years of harassment and self-loathing. My young heart questioned why God thought I was so wretched that He didn’t care about my getting groped at in the halls or descended upon in the bathrooms, and later my scarred, angry heart began visiting all the “If Only” scenarios it could conjure.

If only I’d been stronger. If only my body had kept the same pace as my friends’. If only I wasn’t too ashamed to tell. If only I knew how to not wear someone else’s sin as my own. If only…

Maybe you can relate, or maybe your “If Onlys” are:

If only I was prettier…

If only I was thinner…

If only I had finished college…

If only I’d married someone else…

If only I had more money, more confidence, more friends, more __________ (You fill in the blank)…

And those are some of the simpler ones. Maybe yours are more complicated:

If only my parents had wanted me…

If only I hadn’t gotten pregnant…

If only I hadn’t had that abortion…

If only my husband hadn’t cheated…

If only I hadn’t cheated…

If only my kids would listen…

The fact is, “If Only” is a dangerous place to visit too often or too long, whether it’s a past or present circumstance. On the surface, it’s just a temporary diversion from our here-and-now. But on a deeper level, it justifies why our lives are inadequate and keeps us chained to our mistakes or to what “might have been” or “should be” instead of released into “what may yet be”.

So, what do we do when we’re tempted to visit the world of “If Only”?

  • Decide not to camp there. A backward glance is one thing, but a rear-view lens is often blurry. It’s too easy to let our imagination either skew reality or re-create outcomes that would never have been.4664571024_ccff2e5ccc

As Elie Weisel, a survivor of three Nazi concentration camps once said, “Some stories are true that never happened.”

  • Let go of what you didn’t have, embrace what you do have, and dream for what you can have. Your past or present circumstances don’t have to dictate your future. I love how Paul says it in Philippians 3:13, “…but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.”
  • Forgive. God. Others. Yourself. You can.
  • Find a way to be grateful. Being grateful for something is not the same as being grateful despite something. Gratitude doesn’t change your circumstance, but it does change your perspective of it and reaction to it.

So how does this look in real life? Well, back to the 6th grade…I’m by no means grateful for what happened to me, but I am absolutely grateful for what it produced in me. From it, I gained compassion for young, hurting women and even for the young, hurting men who violate them. I developed the instinct to protect my own daughters and the wisdom to instruct my son to honor every daughter. I was propelled down dark roads that eventually led to these invaluable truths:

I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14),

I am dearly loved by my Father in heaven,

I am not responsible for the sins of others but am fully forgiven for my own,

I have the strength to leave my land of “If Only” and stay connected to my reality and be the best wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend I can be .

Okay Mamas, your turn. What “If Only” are you going to stop visiting? I’d love to hear from you.

(photo credit: #ds198 – Not a Morning Person via photopin (license) )