Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Gentle Answer

Proverbs 15 says:

A gentle answer deflects anger,
    but harsh words make tempers flare.
 The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing,
    but the mouth of a fool belches out foolishness.
 The Lord is watching everywhere,
    keeping his eye on both the evil and the good.
 Gentle words are a tree of life;
    a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.
 Only a fool despises a parent’s discipline;
    whoever learns from correction is wise.
 A glad heart makes a happy face;
    a broken heart crushes the spirit.
 The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking;
    the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words.
 The Lord is far from the wicked,
    but he hears the prayers of the righteous.
 A cheerful look brings joy to the heart;
    good news makes for good health.
 If you listen to constructive criticism,
    you will be at home among the wise.
 If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself;
    but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding.
 Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom;
    humility precedes honor.
(Emphasis mine. This is not the whole chapter. To read the whole chapter go here.)

Verses from this chapter in the Bible have continually shown up in random areas in the course of my lifetime. Most recently, some of these verses have shown up in ALL of my current book studies or my quiet times with the Lord. Every single verse in this chapter speaks to my life, past and present. 

It's no lie that I have been going through growing pains in my walk with the Lord. After accepting Christ as my Lord and Savior when I was 19, falling away but returning just before turning 22, my life has been full of ups and downs. The Lord has seen me worthy to call Walnut Creek my home. He has blessed me with a husband who puts up with my constant "booty-hurt"-ness (his words, not mine) and sass. He has graciously loaned me 4 of his glorious children. Not to mention COUNTLESS other blessings and honors. Not for my glory, but TO GOD BE THE GLORY. The Lord has also seen fit to allow me to grow and learn and stumble and fall and lovingly pick me back up to do it all over again. He has given me numerous persons as living examples of his love, grace, truth, faithfulness, etc (all the fruits of the Holy Spirit). I have seen this world hurt. I have seen my loved ones hurt. I have seen my child hurt. I have seen excruciating amounts of pain over the last 31 (almost 32) years I have been alive- whether in my own life or people I love. I have caused hurt and pain and suffering. I have experienced hurt and pain and suffering. I praise Jesus for the comfort he provides to those who seek him, because I've been seeking it since 8:47am.

Just a few days ago in my devotional, I was reminded about the goodness that can come from constructive criticism meant to help and grow, rather than critical or harsh words aimed to hurt and tear down. Yesterday, while reading through one of my book studies, I was reminded of the importance of gentle and kind words. And these aren't the only instances that I can think of where God was trying to get my attention regarding the truth laid out in Proverbs 15 above. 

This morning, God gave me an opportunity to put into practice the things he's been telling me. And I failed. Miserably. My morning, almost literally, came crashing down. Bad choices were made. Worse reactions followed. I will not go into details (...I have no idea why I even try to hold on to my dignity, the Lord has a way of humbling me no matter what...) but I will say that I was a Mean Mommy this morning. Did my children deserve consequences for their actions? Yes. Did my children deserve my reactions? No. Just as much as God gives me gentle reminders/rebukes and allows me to endure/persevere through the consequences while loving me and showing me grace/mercy, my children deserve the same. I will not make excuses for myself. Yes, I was tired. But that's not their fault, I stayed up late for my own selfish desires. Yes, I woke up later than I wanted (see previous excuse), and therefore, I was frazzled. Also, not their fault. I let my own frustrations and anger overpower the gentleness and love that I know I am capable of showing! 

Luke 8:15 says " But as for that seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word with a good and noble heart, and hold on to it tightly, and bear fruit with patience."

God has gently reminded me to HOLD ON to his word tightly. And He has been prepping me with Proverbs 15. How patient is our Lord? He deals with me, clearly he has patience. I'm so undeserving of His goodness and love. He loves me so much. Or better yet, He loves my children so much, that he is seeing his good work in their mother to completion. I am so very far from perfect. But I am so very thankful that our God is faithful in his promises. God promises me that he will teach me if I am willing to learn. Psalms 32:8 "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you [who are willing to learn] with My eye upon you."  I am willing to learn. I have learned that my hard heart is a result of pent up anger, greed, self-centeredness, and bitterness. Jesus healed me of those things over a decade ago, and I want a soft and teachable heart. I want to be a better child of God, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, co-parent, and neighbor, and I pray that God will continue to (gently) grow me in each of these roles. Lord, teach me to let go of my anger and bitterness. Fill me up with your love and gentleness. In Jesus' name, Amen.

I pray for all you out there reading my jumbled up thoughts. Be teachable, be gentle in your words, and most importantly, be loving.