I sent the following e-mail to Jim at work today:
Where are the wire cutters? This morning, because I am stuck on the couch with a bad back (for the second day), M asked if she could brush my hair. I said yes. She asked if she could part my hair with a comb. I said no (I knew from experience that M doesn't handle a comb well). She did it anyway. By the time I realized what she was doing, most of the hair on the back of my head was snarled around a rat-tail comb. R and N have spent the better part of the day trying to untangle it while I lay on the couch. It isn't working. I've been online searching for solutions. I didn't like the idea of shaving my head, or of cutting my hair off with hedge trimmers (seriously...Google "hair tangled around comb" and see what you come up with). The only helpful idea I found online was to try to cut off as much of the comb as possible with wire cutters so that it would be easier to untangle the hair from the comb. So....dear husband...do you know where the wire cutters are?
Jim cut out a lot of the comb, but still couldn't get the hair untangled. Out came the hair scissors, and off came a hunk of tangled hair. I haven't seen the back of my head yet (I'm still on the couch with the heating pad), but the children insist that you can't even tell. Maybe you can picture their earnest little faces as they looked with large eyes at the pieces of comb and hair in Jim's hands. We'll see.
Funny thing is, I had spent the whole day battling anger, irritability, and just plain sin, and it wasn't even all about the comb hanging off the back of my head. It's true, there's a fair amount of pain involved with my back trouble. It's true, I've been sweating like a pig, because I really need the heating pad despite the 90 degree August weather. It's true, the house is a wreck, the laundry isn't done, and yesterday I already did pretty much everything I could do from my spot on the couch. I can sense the moments until school starts sliding by while I sit here, and feel my tension rising. So I kept trying to preach to myself. These are just "blips"."I am not a wave." But I failed. I failed somewhat miserably, in fact. I was less than loving with Jim last night, and less than patient with the children today. It wasn't anything dramatic...in fact when I truly evaluate my actual words and actions, I'm, surprised to realize that I had more self-control than I felt I was having at the time. But it's my heart. I called all of the children into the living room (right before Jim got home with the wire cutters) to repent and ask their forgiveness for my attitude today, and I realized that they weren't really even aware of the extent of my sin against them. I really wasn't expressing it nearly as clearly as I thought I was...thank goodness. But I was certainly thinking and feeling it. So I guess the bottom line for me is this: 1) I have a long way to go. A lifetime, really, of continuing to seek God's help, continuing to ask Him over and over to empty me out of me, and fill me up with Him. I think maybe I even need to have days like this one just to continually remind me of how much I do need His help in everything. If the "little ants" or "blips" that I'm troubled by really aren't much trouble at all, or if there aren't too many of them for me to handle, then it's easy to convince myself that I'm in control. When of course, the whole idea of me being in control is laughable. And 2) I am deeply, unspeakably thankful for the process of sanctification that God has begun in me, and continues to work in me. As deeply as I felt my sin today, I am aware of His goodness, and honestly of the good He is working in me. As much as I felt my failure today, I am aware of the growth...of the ways in which, by God's grace, I didn't fail. The harsh or hurtful words I didn't say. The ways that He kept drawing my attention away from my fretfulness, and back to Himself. I am meditating on these words (from Psalm 73:28) "But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works." The nearness of God is my good. If He is near...there is good. My good. If there is any good in me...He is near. And I will tell of all His works.
N spoke up from across the room as Jim was finishing my haircut. "Are you going to let M brush your hair anymore?" The question took me by surprise, but my answer was quick...yes. Of course. The long day behind me flashed through my mind, and my own need for grace felt heavy. R was sitting close by listening...the daughter who struggles the most with grace, both for herself and for others. And I said it for her and for myself...there is grace for this. There is grace for M from me, because the grace that's been offered to me is boundless and costly. I am grasping it for myself today, with a grateful heart. And, in all seriousness...a lesson in grace is worth an unwanted haircut. :)