Why is it, do you suppose, that we so often act and speak in the midst of emotions rather than taking time to stop, be silent, and...here's a concept...pray?
I had a tough week last week. For one thing, I fell while descending a six-foot ladder, taking the full impact on my right ribs. An ambulance ride and ER visit later, the word came down: broke the #7 rib. Now mind you, until Monday night I didn't even know I had a #7 rib, but now? I can show you right where that little fink is located.
It's where the excruciating pain begins just before it courses through my entire body.
Yeah, you know all the things you heard about broken ribs being painful. Well, they underplayed it. It's not just painful, it's PAINFUL. Mind you, I'm not complaining. Just reporting. If given the options to break a rib or not, trust me on this, go for not.
So I spent the week mostly prone, though couldn't stay down all the time because the main complication of broken ribs is pneumonia because THE PAIN keeps you from expanding your lungs. So I'd get up (OUCH! ARGH!), walk around (Ooch! Yipe!), sit (Ooooowwwwie!)...well, you get the idea. Happily, I'm doing better today. Got out of bed this morning without screaming. Makes for a far more relaxing advent of the day. Not screaming, that is. Made it through most of church, which was nice. Even got a little yard work done. Veeerrry little. Done veeerryy slowly. But hey, that's better than none.
Add to the physical issues work issues, which got me all riled up. Why can't people just do what I want them to do? Don't they know I know what I'm doing?? ArrrggHHH!!! Thursday it came to a head. So what do I do when all this comes down? Do I sit and ponder? Do I bow my head and listen for guidance? Do I turn to Scripture.
Of course not. I shoot off an email expressing my frustration and woundedness. Then gather my self righteousness, ease up out of my computer chair (ouch! Eeep!), and move at a geriatric tortoise pace back to my recliner--from which I can't escape without help.
Then comes today, and the church service. I was sitting there, all engrossed in the sermon, when Someone taps me on the shoulder.
"I'm listening to the pastor," I say.
Sigh. "You're not going away, are You?"
Tap. Tap. Taptaptaptap.
"Okay, Lord. I'm listening." This is said with great fear and trepidation, because of course I know what He's tapping me about. It's been bothering me ever since I hit send.
"Karen, child, have you forgotten?"
I lower my head. "Forgotten what?"
"That the heart of the king is in the hands of the LORD."
"Oh. That." Another sigh. I don't need Him to explain. I know exactly what He's saying. It doesn't matter that people's actions don't make sense to me. Or even, bottom line, that their actions may hurt me. Because God is the One in control. He's guiding the people leading the company I work for--and, for that matter, the company you work for. And those who lead the government. And the world. It may not look like it. Sure as spit may not feel like it. But facts are facts.
God is in control.
Either I believe that or I don't. Either I trust His promise to work all things for my ultimate good--meaning my refinement, to make me a more pure reflection of Christ--or I don't. And if I believe that promise, then I need to act like it.
I closed my eyes. "No, Lord. I didn't forget. I just...didn't care. Not in that moment. I was angry."
It's on the tip of my tongue to defend myself, to say I was in pain or on pain meds or just not able to take anything else. But I don't. Because I know it would just be a bunch of hooey. Because no matter how I'm feeling, and no matter what anyone else does or says, I know what's right and what's wrong. And what I did was wrong. Because following the living Christ isn't about demanding my rights, no matter how "right" that may seem. It's about laying those rights on the altar and walking in faith that He will take care of me. No matter what.
Even when I do what I shouldn't. "I'm sorry, Lord."
"I know, child."
"Please forgive me."
"Already done, beloved."
Even as the sweetness of forgiveness settles over me, I know. God's forgiven me, but my part isn't done. So I sent another email. An apology. And you know what? Sitting down at the computer to do so didn't hurt. Neither did getting up. Because I wasn't tense or worked up. I was relaxed. At peace.
That's what happens when you do what's right in HIS eyes rather than what's right in your own eyes.
So the next time you feel yourself tensing, feel those emotions churning and anger starting to roil...next time you open your mouth--or put fingers to keyboard--to deliver a much-deserved reprimand or outburst of righteous anger, consider doing what I didn't.
Find out what He wants you to say. Or write. Or feel.
And then...only then...act. Or speak.
I think you'll find what I did. That being at peace is way better than being "right."
Peace to you today.