Thursday, December 16, 2010
For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
Our son had a temper tantrum today. It wasn't the yelling, thrashing, foaming-at-the-mouth (ok...I exaggerate) meltdown kind of toddler tantrum. It was the passive, pathetic, nobody-cares-I-might-as-well-go-eat-worms, Eeyore kind of teenage tantrum. As he's sought scumble (as used in this fun read-aloud, Savvy) over his feelings, esp during times of disappointment, our maturing young man has overcompensated. His response to disappointment has mutated from highly intense to bitterly despondent. While we applaud his effort (and acknowledge that the latter is quieter)...it's not really much of an improvement.
Because it's not truthful.
In YWAM's course titled Relationships, Dean Sherman expounds on Romans 12:3: "We could say it this way: Do not think more highly [or lowly] of yourself than you ought to think..." Sherman explains that thinking more lowly (negatively) of ourselves than we ought to is not humility; rather, it's just negative pride. And it's just as wrong as thinking too highly of ourselves, because it's inaccurate, untrue...a lie. God wills that we would accurately understand the truth of our value as well as everyone else's.
We discussed how this concept could extend to how we express feelings--how extreme, irrational highs and lows tend to be inaccurate, untruthful, and unhelpful--and the tantrum dissolved into rational reflection. Then came a thoughtful, "Mom...I don't know why, but I've just kinda felt mad for a long time now...ever since you left us with Clarks."
"Ya Mom," came our daughter's calm contribution, "I'm not mad, but...I do wish you would've taken us with you. I wish we would've been there when [N] passed away."
If we would have known Wednesday would be N's last day, we would have taken our kids with us to the nursing home. But we didn't. We dropped them off Tuesday night to stay with good friends, thinking that Wednesday dance class was the bright spot in their lives that we could keep stable in the midst of a six-week upheaval in our routine. N was declining rapidly now, right on the verge of coma but still getting nutrition. All family was enroute. Until Tuesday night, N was still waking a few times a night to cry out for help, and didn't want to be left alone. Her needs were temporarily consuming and we weren't our most available to parent. And not being God, we were unsure how long the process of actively dying would take. But if we'd known, we would have brought the kids with us that night.
That was a few weeks ago. Next came the flurry of work--arrangements to be made, funeral to attend, and finances to figure out. Then the activity died down and everyone grew quieter, more contemplative. Long private group Facebook messages ensued between the adults in the family, each of us welcome to offer our two cents' worth. It was a good way for us to all stay connected no matter where we live. Now depression has set in for some, and we gently check in with each other, evaluating where each member of the family is in the grieving process (denial, bargaining, guilt, anger, acceptance) and encouraging as the Lord empowers us. Through all of this, the kids have seemed okay emotionally. But...perhaps I've missed something?
"See, Mom, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it and I'm not blaming anybody--not even God--but I'm just...tired of everybody around me having to be sad. I guess it just makes me mad that the family has to be sad."
From the mouths of babes...
As I pondered this young wisdom, I discerned anger in my own heart. I was mad, too. But I also realized my anger was less innocent. I suddenly recognized it as subconscious anger, subconsciously misdirected at the loved ones who are grieving, especially the ones who have a relationship with God. I'm not angry that they're grieving, but that they're failing to find hope and strength in their faith, that they're NOT taking every thought captive, they're NOT walking in the freedom of Truth, their minds ARE anchored in this world. I haven't really felt judgmental, but...I guess I have been. Perhaps that's why my encouragements have sounded more like commands than compassion, even to my own ears???
I've been guilty of pride, then. Lord, forgive me. Thank You for redirecting my anger toward the true and only culprit--Your enemy, satan. Now by the blood and in the name of Your son, Yeshua (Jesus), please give me Your mind on this matter. Prepare me to wage holy war and be a holy sanctuary for Your sake. I claim Your ground in the lives of our loved ones, and refuse any retaliation from the enemy. Gird, strengthen, and lead us in this fight. Give us Your ears to hear, Your eyes to see. Give us Your love and patience and joy. Be our comfort, our peace, our Answer. Give us an accurate assessment of ourselves, and this matter of death and life. And for those who doubt...Lord, you met Thomas where he was. Please meet each of us where we are, too. Praise You, Lord God Almighty! Amen.