I’ve been helping out with youth ministry the last few months and our pastor has been sharing a video series on issues that we need to get real about. Anger, guilt, that kind of thing. He said something that stuck out to me, that our true self comes out with our reaction to a stubbed toe.
Well, I handle a stubbed toe pretty well. I whine like a girl, but I don’t curse or get angry.
But that doesn’t mean I should be wearing a halo.
My true self comes out when my goals are blocked. When I’m sleep deprived, and hungry.
I’m not from the south, so I’m not going to respond with a “Bless your heart.” I’m going to most likely get overly dramatic, complete with sighs, talk to walls because no one with a sound mind wants to be near me. Negative? I invented emo. I could probably enter the Oscar consideration pool if it were theatrical.
It’s just me being my true self.
My true self hates when things don’t go my way. I have a list, written or in my mind, I need to check stuff off that list or I lose it. I don’t enjoy having three dogs that at times need me just when I’m getting stuff done. A spill that comes not long after I’ve cleaned everything, something that takes me away from writing and marketing. I often resent the homework I know I need to check on because I know this work is smarter than I am and the way they want the answers is pure bunk. (I’m looking at you, Common Core.) I don’t get giddy when a child needs a ride with little notice because again, I’m a planner. I’ve come absolutely undone when I’m making a meal and realize I’m out of a key ingredient.
My true self has spewed some pretty ugly things from sarcasm with the intent to bite to discouraging words that Jesus girls shouldn’t be repeating. It’s been happening a lot lately, and I’m a thinker. It started at an event where I didn’t plan on anything that went down that night happening. I didn’t plan on it being busy. I didn’t think I’d have a rough go of it on many levels. I didn’t put on my list that I would stew about it. I didn’t pencil in the added time needed to prepare two kids for two plays. A child struggling and needing extra help. A child having a setback in health and losing days of peace, sleep and sanity in a fight to get her back on track.
The anger that this child had to suffer in the first place.
And on and on I could go.
My true self was screaming at the dogs for getting tangled around my legs in a trip to the their bathroom that shouldn’t be so complicated. I was threatening to send them away and yelling for them to hurry up. Slamming doors when they wanted out again and again and again.
My true self at the core is selfish and mean. Angry. Tired. Burned out. Dependent on lists and toddler insistent that I do it my way, myself.
It’s not pretty to admit this, but I know there’s someone else out there beating themselves up for reacting to anything from a stubbed toe to a sick child. Thing is, it’s not just you, although that accusatory voice hissing in your ear would like you to believe that. And you don’t have to stay in that pit. Yep, we were born sinful, but we don’t have to stay that way. I’m visual and thanks to Christ’s work on the cross and my friendship with Him, I picture every day as a new slate. Whatever happened even an hour ago, I can confess it and the slate is clean. It’s not my license to act like an idiot, that’s not a fruitful life. But who I am, truly am in Christ can come back and live free.
I’m still tired and I’m fighting the bah humbug of the season. A late Thanksgiving is too much pressure for a list maker like me, so I need to be intentional about enjoying it all. I need to say no to things, as good as they are, to make sure I get rest. To push away the emails and get back in Bible study. I can’t coast without these things for long. Trust me, you don’t want me to.
So, that’s my confession. I’ve felt dead inside most of this year and my true self is pretty horrid.
But, I’m not alone. I have hope, a future, and a promise.
And so do you.
When people are skeptical about Christ’s ability to transform people today, I want to bring in people from my childhood to display as my Exhibit A. I was a wounded, angry child and my mouth was often far ahead of my brain. If I couldn’t say it in person, well I did the next best thing–write a letter. I earned the nickname “Poison Pen.”
It’s a true testament to Christ that I’m not referred to that way anymore. But be assured it remains a choice on my part, and some days are easier than others. My feelings get hurt just like yours. Sarcasm? I could be a master if I practiced the skill.
And boy, do I want to have a showcase displaying that talent.
There is someone in a small circle in my life that I give far too much access to my time and thoughts. They are a wounded person that lives a double standard. They love to tell everyone in their radius how privacy is important to them, while they are literally looking over the fence to watch everyone else. I should know. They have literally called out to me from a distance asking how much my mom’s sewing machine cost because they openly confessed they watched my mom sew all night. From a distance.
I learned early on this was a toxic situation and it escalated to a point that someone close to us was nearly harmed because the wounded person got in our business without knowing the full picture and called the police. It wasn’t out of concern, it was out of gossip. And it nearly got our friend, a disabled person who can not speak without assistance, hurt.
was am so mad more than a year later that I still rehearse what I really want to say. When it first happened I caught the person watching me, again, from a distance, as I backed out of my driveway.
Honestly? I wanted to give her a one finger wave. The anger was that intense.
But I dialed down the sass somewhat and stuck out my tongue.
I know. Real mature.
I’ve prayed a lot. For me to have compassion. Yet when my circle and theirs interact, the assessment is always the same. This person is wounded, and we are all their targets. No one escapes. It’s hard to feel sorry for them.
I’ve prayed for them. There have been hard times in their life and I believe they had a scenario regarding how I’d fit in their life. And I totally don’t match that fantasy. To say they are probably disappointed in me would be an understatement.
Well this week I came face to face with them for the first time in years. I’ve heard time and time again how so and so was such a disappointment because they didn’t greet the wounded person, in fact so and so went out of their way to escape. So when I saw the wounded person, I instantly felt like they deserved a greeting.
So I said hello.
Not loud, but with the courage I had with me. Not snotty, but not full of love, either. But I tried.
And wounded person put their nose in the air and looked right through me.
And my flesh roared back. I whispered, “Unbelieveable! What a pain in the butt!” as I walked away.
But I didn’t stop. Not in my mind, at least.
I’ve been rehearsing for a show that should never go into production. One where I pronounce what probably everyone else is thinking, and I know I am. Where I shout their deeds and failures from the top of my roof. And yes, I’m still struggling with the wave. Not the kind one, either.
I don’t have the right answer for this, but it is a confession Saturday. I know the wrong answer is to keep this rehearsal going. I don’t believe they are approachable or willing to receive anything, so by praying, I’d need to keep it on the down low. Yet, I’m not really feeling it, either.
I know this much, not giving every thought to Christ is a dangerous deed. My rehearsing comebacks are as toxic as the wounded person. No one wins.
And like I said, this show I’m practicing for, the Director of my life never gave it a green light. It doesn’t have backing. No one will buy tickets, because there will be no play. No matinees, no closing night. Nothing.
Where does that leave me? A frustrated actress without a stage. But you know, the play that never opens is the closed door that is closed for good reason. And if I obey, chances are an open door is close by to practice kind words and responses to someone willing to receive.
And through obedience I believe there will be great applause.
Finally, the weekend. I think this week went on forever. Sure felt like it.
Here’s my Character Confession for the week. I think my confession is why the week felt so long.
I’m 41 and there are days I’m absolutely consumed by hopelessness. Sometimes it’s hormonal. Sometimes it’s by my own choice and the consequences. A lot of times, it’s a targeted attack created in the pit of hell.
And darn it, that’s not right.
But when I see such an attack striking at children, well now I’m angry.
This week I watched a torrent of hopelessness come in like a tsunami on young teenagers. I’m a pretty discerning person and it was more than a bad hair day. More than stress. More than hormones. I won’t release specifics, but you have to trust me.
The enemy is desperate, and his bag of tricks never gets a refill. He has to go with what works. And making people think their lives aren’t worth living is the oldest trick of all.
I might look silly, and I’ll be mocked, but I know what it takes to overcome, and it’s so simple, we miss it.
I’m turning the anger into righteousness. I’m not just praying, I’m proclaiming. I’m decreeing who these kids are, and whose these are. Because Christ is in me, I’m speaking out His promises over them, and for every thing, word, plan, and strategy the enemy concocted, I’m asking the Lord in turn take the curse and exchange it for 100 fold blessing on every family. In Jesus’ name I remind the true defeated one he has no access. He is denied entry into placing hopelessness or harmful coping strategies into the minds of these children.
Mark my words, those that are new teenagers have been set apart. I believe they will lead the way into what has already started, the greatest move of God in all time. That’s not going to go down without a fight.
I get it.
But I’m also going to get angry and make sure these kids know how precious they are, and that they are not the defeated ones. That title belongs to the enemy, and he’s done stealing from them.
If this resonates with you, don’t just get angry, get on your knees.
And cover the kids in prayer.
After I wrote this post, I prepared for the time of prayer. At 5pm I left for the very school I was going to pray for at 6 to pick up the oldest. He wasn’t done until 5:30. I start the car, and it’s dead. A dead car in the very place I’m ready to pray for. Thankfully another family was close by and we prayed a little late, but we prayed. When the dad of that family got out of his car he said, “You know this isn’t about your car, right?”
Yep. I know.
My husband, once he got home, was nervous about the battery. I told him I don’t think I have any car problems at all. I think it was all to discourage and distract me. To make sure all was well, I hit the remote starter, and the car roared to life.
I’m still angry, and I still prayed.
How about you?