Standing at the kitchen counter, sleep still permeating my eyes I feel for the coffee pot, prepare the pot, as I have done so many mornings. I squint adjusting to the light well aware I’m being stalked by the morning pet parade. Three sets of eyes are staring up at me. I pour dry food into the two cat bowls, grab the dog’s leash from the coat rack and head to the door with a prancing Reindeer. Once we are out into February’s chilly morning darkness and at the canine appointed place of business, I stare up at the dark blue sky over us. I gaze at the stars. Standing in the starlight, surrounded by winter’s stillness I’m startled awake as I take inventory of my heart.
As I am gazing up, I think the unthinkable as one of God’s children… “Cursed”. It pops into my head like poison injected from a snakebite. There is no mistaking the word. I am conflicted. What I know within and what I am experiencing without rage against one another and I am bubbling up into a slow boil.
A verse crosses my mind countering the poisonous accusation:
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9
The conflict begins a war. Cursed or Rich? Which is it?
My emotions and intellect enter the ring in a losing battle. It’s been an exceptionally hard week. It’s turning into an exceptionally hard season. The weather has been mild but the storms keep coming. Faith is the only one able to put my emotions and intellect in their rightful place. Meanwhile, I’m under the stars contemplating life and coffee. I think Faith hit the snooze button this morning.
Ingratitude rears it’s head in a moment. It asks, “Why this,” and “Why now?”
It asks even worse…”Why not THEM, or him, or her?” Love your neighbor as yourself starts in the mind, and my report card glows bright with a fat red “F”.
Ingratitude is always personal; it demands attention, but is sneaky. It comes in through the back door, catching you by surprise, then sits down to dine at the table with you. It doesn’t openly identify itself, instead introduces itself in small injustices, extending its hand with a choice. I can receive it or reject it.
I turn toward the house, walking along the cement walkway, assessing the state of disrepair, up the stairs that also need fixing. I feel the grumble rising from within. It gives rise to a multitude of negative sparks and I feel powerless in the moment as I start to mentally assess things more significant than a crumbling sidewalk. Things that pertain to life, death, loved ones. Illness, disease, job loss, loneliness, pain, suffering…the themes swirl through my mind on a continuous loop.
I silently count offenses from the past week with each step I take. I feel the weight of my own failures, carry the weight of burdens around me, I feel the heaviness threaten to crush me.
I walk up to the counter expecting to fill my coffee cup, but wait, there is no coffee to pour. What? Talk about injustice! Did I forget to turn on the Coffee Maker? I hit the button noticing the lights and clock are not showing.
I begin pressing and repressing buttons, switching switches, unplugging and plugging. Realizing my efforts are useless, I decide to count my losses and head over to Dunkin’ Donuts to get coffee for my soon to be awake family.
My emotional boiling point hits as I am driving. My stomach churns as the words dance in my head, like children in a circle, singing Ring around the Rosie. Only the words are Cursed, Crushed, Conflicted…and around they go again.
Just as my soul retreats defeated by rising fleshly fear and frustration, there is a stirring within reminding me of my heritage. Rising up and reprimanding the influence of ingratitude it brings up another verse. I still feel conflicted, but sense the rescue and my Rescuer raising the Sword. My emotions are waging war, and I am apologizing for the conflict to my Maker, knowing what is the expectation. Knowing the war is real. And won. But, also knowing I am not alone in the battle…although I feel it, at this moment.
Though I seem to forget in some moments…He has promised-make that promises– to be with me always .
The Rider rides in with His Sword swinging and I am rescued by His Word. Not cursed. Not under a curse. Rich.
Rich. I don’t feel rich, Lord. I hate myself for the feelings which betray my weakness and lack. I continue my silent conversation. Meanwhile self-loathing offers to join in the dancing circle in my mind, but is met with a nudge. Sorry, not today. A quiet, gentle something presses in as my mind swirls, stomach churns. As I am focusing on my failures, my flaws, my lack, and apologizing -the grace of God pours over me slowly, as oil on the head.
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:7
God whispers to my soul a message of love I do not understand but can only receive.
Like a child comforted by a mother’s bosom, we receive grace as babes. No apologies. I am needy. Never more needy than when feeling conflicted. I realize that though I am conflicted about my emotional response to my circumstances, God is not judging my human responses. God is not angry that I am overcome with emotions and outrage at the diverse problems and situations that make up this existence. He put on human likeness to show that emotions are not to be despised.
He loves us even in our conflicted waywardness. He loves us and woos us back into His arms, because He longs to swoop up our messy conflicted souls in His grace, mercy and love.
Do you feel conflicted by your emotions, faith and intellect? Are you plagued with doubt about the goodness of God? I am learning still the wonders of His love, and can only tell you to turn to Him in your conflict. He will meet you there. In our moments, He nudges us, gently. In our fears, insecurities He calls. He never lets His sheep wander far. He corrals us with His love, contains us with His mercy, covers us with His love everlasting.
Lord, You are a gracious and merciful God. You don’t ask us to apologize for our emotions. You created us for your pleasure with emotions and you love all you have made! Help me and each one who reads these words today to receive your grace and understanding about expressing emotions honestly before you and also as appropriate with others. I am grateful for the grace, mercy and love you expressed in sending a Savior who was and is and is to come. Who took on sin and death in victory, and who became poor that I become rich. Though I fail you, others and myself- you never fail and you uphold me and all of your children in truth, love and faithfulness. You promise never to leave nor forsake those who acknowledge you. May we receive your grace by faith, trusting in your everlasting Word. Amen.