The roots of a critical spirit go deep. This goes much deeper than just an issue of the tongue. I've kept telling myself that what comes out of my mouth is the overflow of my heart, but shutting my mouth has definitely helped me to really take a hard look at the state of my heart. I'm more convinced than ever that I am dependent on God's grace to change me...though I think He is using this experience to work on it.
I didn't mention yesterday that Jim is refinishing our wood floors this week during spring break. He and I both know that I don't have a high tolerance for disorder and noise. At this moment, most of the furniture from our living room and dining room is shoved into the kitchen, and the belt sander he rented has been cranking away (very loudly) during all of our waking hours since 7:30 yesterday morning. (It's too bad this blog doesn't have sound effects...you could listen in right now). Ahhh....sanctification. Do you think this is what "learning in the trenches" means?. Maybe it just wouldn't be as effective if I were beginning this quest during a peaceful, orderly week (as if there were such a thing).
Last night, because of the general chaos going on in our house, we didn't sit down for dinner until after 7pm. Just to set the stage, please remember that I've already mentioned being a control freak. I am the table manners Nazi. "Sit up, please." "Put your feet on the floor." "Stop laying on the table." "Ask someone to pass that to you, don't reach across the table," "Don't chew with your mouth open....talk with food in your mouth....take such a big bites..." etc., etc., etc. (Sounds delightful, doesn't it?) Anyway, last night we were trying to squeeze around the table (remember all that extra furniture in the kitchen...and the dining room is off limits because of the sanding). As I squeezed around a corner to put plates on the table, I came up behind two girls sitting at the table with their feet underneath them on their chairs. Yes, normally I would've immediately told them to put their feet down (something along the lines of, "Chairs are for bottoms, not feet. Put your feet down, please"). But I'd been mentally preparing myself all day for dinnertime. Practicing the fine art of ignoring. My mouth was ready to stay closed, but...I forgot to tell my hands. I can't even explain what was going through my mind...maybe it was like an "out-of-body" experience, but my hands reached out all on their own, turned those little girls bodies, and nudged their feet onto the floor. I wish you could've seen the looks on their faces. (I wish I could've seen the look on my own face; I think I was as surprised as they were.) I looked back at them, shrugged sheepishly, and said, "ummm...sorry."
Obviously I need a little more practice at this. We'll see what happens on Day 3.
On the upside, from my quiet time today:
"You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean." Matt. 23:26. This might not strike you as a super encouraging passage of scripture (!), but I am feeling deeply thankful that God is leading me through a process of cleaning the inside of my cup. I have so much hope in that.
"No distrust made him (Abraham) waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised." Romans 5:20. I give glory to God for every act (or word) of kindness that comes from me, and for every critical or harsh word that I was able not to speak today. Though my faith often is so weak, at this moment, on this day (and by His grace), I am fully convinced that God is able to do what He has promised in me. And, oh, His promises are good.