Saturday, November 12, 2011

because pride cometh before the fender bender

I used my GPS for the first time the other day. Well, I had semi-used it once before when I was stuck in traffic and knew how to press the button with the home icon calculated an alternate route. But this was the first time I actually keyed in a destination. And I was figuring it out fine, except for the view. Its default was to show me only the next turn, and I knew that wasn’t going to work because I pride myself in being a responsible driver I’d have to constantly take my eyes off the road. But I didn’t have time to fuss with it or else I’d be responsible no longer (gasp!) late. So off I drove.

And minutes later, I became a statistic.

Because less than a mile from home, I got into an accident. I was so focused on confirming my right turn with the GPS that I forgot to look up (and left, in particular).

Fortunately, the other car swerved, so the damage was minor and everyone was okay. But in my heart and mind, that wasn't the point there was something that still troubled me. And I am not one to get fired up, but I was angry. No, I was furious. But, um, I didn’t know why.

And before I disclose my insecurities go any further, let me be clear that I still regret take full responsibility for choosing to use the stinkin' GPS, for taking my eyes off the road, and for hitting the other car. Yes, I always have a choice.
(That public service announcement brought to you by my head.)

But as for my heart, I felt wronged. Even betrayed.
(Yes, folks, I realize that I was experiencing intense emotions toward an inanimate object, but just humor me for a few minutes, mmkay?)

So after praying about it and toggling between tears and rage talking to my husband about it, I realized that because I am still trying to blame the GPS didn’t have time to figure out how to change the view (or go inside to print directions from mapquest), I felt like I didn’t have much choice but to use the GPS “as is” three. measly. yards. at a time. Like I was forced to do something that I knew was irresponsible. And then to add salt to the wound, I ended up the bad guy!
The irresponsible one . . .

We need to stop right there, friends. Because that is one big ouch, with a capital O.
I was irresponsible? . . .
And THAT, my friends, is where my pride cries out like a two-year-old throwing a temper tantrum draws the line.

Because far be it from me that I ever appear fallible irresponsible. And even farther be it from me that I ever actually AM human irresponsible. I make smart choices, not foolish choices. I use my turn signals. I follow the rules. That’s where I've wrongly placed my safety and security who I am! And according to that (false) premise, the GPS clearly violated my identity. The accident, a direct blow to my perceived value.

Fortunately, God is greater than my tantrums pride. And He reminded me that life’s not about doing the right things.


Did I just say what I think I just said?

I need to say that one again.
The goal in life isn't doing the right things.
That is not why we are here.
(Excuse me, but did that thought just rock your world like it did mine??)

This is about a relationship, friends. A relationship with God Almighty.
The One who rejoices over you with singing.
The One who has never stopped loving you since the beginning of time.
The One who knows your weaknesses, and loves you anyway.
The One who offers safety amidst life’s storms.
The One with whom you can entrust your whole soul – and know that it is always protected.

The One who can heal your broken heart.

As I’ve shared before, responsibility isn’t bad; it’s good. Very good! But ultimately, life is not about being responsible, friends. It’s about God.

I am valued not because of any responsibility that comes out of me, but because of the glory that was placed IN me the moment I was created in God’s image.

In Christ, God doesn’t see me as responsible or irresponsible. When God looks at me, all He sees is Christ. In all of His righteousness. All of His spotlessness. Only when I remember that my identity is safe and secure in Christ is my soul at rest. For He is the only identity that cannot be shaken.

Lord, help me to not be so preoccupied with doing the right things turns in life that I forget to look up, that I forget to keep my eyes on what really matters. May I be forever preoccupied with You.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Fixer-Upper Marriage

I had a unique opportunity the other day. An opportunity to see current pictures of the first home that my husband and I lived in – 15 years ago. (Talk about a throw back in time!) It was vacant, had just been renovated, and it looked fantastic!

The contrast between that home’s condition “then” and “now” was so apparent that I got fixated on it took me a little while to move past the first picture. And as I envied gazed into the sight of newly-refinished hardwoods, chocolate-glazed kitchen cabinets, and a fresh coat of paint, I thought, “That’s nicer than where we live now – 15 years later!” We've digressed. There’s something wrong with this whole picture . . . (I know, such a thankful spirit, huh?)

The reality? The materials now featured in that home are nicer than that of our current home. And materials aside, there was no denying how foreign it appeared clean it was.
No clutter.
No marks on the hardwoods.
No scuffs on the paint.
(Did I mention no clutter??)

Since this happened so nostalgically just days before our 15th wedding anniversary, I couldn’t help but take a retrospective look at the couple that occupied those two homes.
Same people. Two very different points in time.

In the one home, a young (sigh) newlywed couple with pretty much all of life ahead of them. And in the other home, a couple who has struggled walked through 15 years of life together. And you know what I concluded? The way those two homes look: Pretty much the same as the marriage.

Because since we’ve been married, we’ve certainly had seasons that have looked much like the newly-renovated house. Incredibly bright days of joy that energized like rays of the sun. Times beautifully painted with vivid colors of laughter. Memories woven together in rich fabric of personal and relational growth.

But we’ve also had times when the leaves have changed their colors, and we’ve found our home in the middle of harsh, cold winters. Times when the supporting beams of life seemed to be collapsing around us. Crises that left us in survival mode – long term.
Times that changed us. And the way we look at the world.

And if our collective walls could speak, they would also attest to the interior realities:
Scuffs of impatience.
Stains of selfish choices.
Dings of disappointment.
Cracks from responses lacking grace.
The constant clutter of my expectations.

Original structure unchanged. But the risk of damage clearly revealed.
Vulnerabilities ruthlessly exposed.

The newlywed home looks altogether appealing and intact. But this marriage home often looks worn.
And then I remember. That home is vacant.
It is only spotless because nobody lives there yet.

So yes, our marriage often looks weathered, messy, and needing repairs. But those marks are evidence of our humanity. Evidence of life.
Every scuff testifies to a life lived – together.

Every crack a reminder that we desperately need God
to pull the whole thing off.

So has our marriage has been wedded bliss? Nope! It hasn't.
It’s been better.

It's been a construction site for our hearts.
A journey of surrendering our wants for God’s best.
A place where we are reminded that God is more interested in our holiness, than our happiness.
Sacred ground where we abide, grow, protect, trust, hope, and persevere.

I'm not afraid of the mess, anymore!
I'm honored to live out this truth in marriage with my husband – stains, leaks, storms, & all.

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