Why is it so difficult to keep my mouth from erupting with fault-finding lava and plumes of critical smoke? There are times I get so worked up, I’m sure my ears must be billowing steam and shooting out sparks.
I work outside the home just one to two days a week. A few months ago, I arrived home after a rather long day at work and was met at the door by my husband, who is a very consistent and dedicated runner. He was scrambling to get his running shoes on before the sun went down and was already at the end of the driveway before I could yell out, “How many miles?!!” As I walked inside, my 18 month old was coughing and choking on some sort of regurgitated snack. It only bothered him a second, and then he was back to playing. I gave the boys a hug and then hurried to the restroom. My bladder was about to burst, so I didn’t realize I was dancing around in something watery that had puddled in front of the toilet, until after I sat down and noticed my socks were wet. What is this liquid? I wasn’t sure, so I sprayed it with cleaner, rolled off my soppy stockings and threw them in the laundry basket. Still puzzled, I walked into the living room to ask the kiddos how their day went. Again, my youngest is still battling with an unknown crunchy food form. As tiny bits are occasionally spewing from his mouth, I ask my oldest, “What is that he’s eating?” He responds, “Oh, daddy gave him peanuts.” Peanuts! What person in their right mind would give a jumping, rolling, bouncing toddler, whole peanuts without any supervision! As I am hunting around for the snack bowl to cut off the peanut supply, a tiny brown mushy ball squishes between my toes. Mind you, I’m now barefoot, due to the unidentifiable fluid incident in the bathroom. I start inspecting this cold mush by pulling my foot as close to my face as I can get it. I become a squinting and sniffing contortionist, and discover that this russet paste is exactly what I had feared. That’s right, it’s plain old number two, just chillin’ out on the living room carpet, like it’s part of the party. By this point, my thermometer of fury had reached the top of my head and I was red hot!
Unfortunately, for my husband, he had a longer run that day, which gave my infuriation ample time to fester. As soon as he stepped inside the front door, he proclaimed he was starving and asked, “What are we having for dinner?” Boom! Explosion! I could no longer contain the monumental push that was shoving this poisonous and critical speech right off the tip of my tongue. After a minute or two of reenacting the role of a blabbering and blithering idiot, I stop to catch a breath, and my husband defensively barks back his reasoning behind the nutty, squashy fiasco. He explains that he was only trying to find a healthy snack for our son, not trying to cut off his airway. He describes how he was trying to heed my wishes by using cloth diapers at home instead of disposable. Apparently, a tiny toddler nugget slipped out of the leg hole when he was transporting the diaper to the toilet. His account of the wayward diaper sprayer explained the small lake I waded through in pursuit of the porcelain throne.
I realized that my momentary rant undid all of my many efforts to sell my husband on using cloth diapers, something I had been trying to persuade him to do for over a year. When I allowed the crackly, condescending branches of bitterness to creep around and clutch my spirit, I crushed all of his spirit’s vulnerable efforts to grow in confidence. To this day, he won’t attempt another cloth diaper, and can I blame him? Well, yes I can, and I did. I’ve found that blaming and accusing, fuel on an arrogant and vainglorious attitude which tends to burn down considerate and caring gestures, often in a matter of seconds. I realized how so very far away I can be from acting like a Christian, and still call myself one. I mentioned in my last post, Hanes in the Horizon, that I have been praying to “see as He sees” and “hear as He hears”, although I find it very interesting that God has answered my prayer by exposing my own ungrace, so that I can begin to comprehend His grace. A quote from Henry Nouwen’s, Return, hits the nail on the head:
“I have often said, “I forgive you”, but even as I said these words my heart remained angry or resentful. I still wanted to hear the story that tells me that I was right after all; I still wanted to hear apologies and excuses; I still wanted the satisfaction of receiving some praise in return–if only the praise for being so forgiving!
But God’s forgiveness is unconditional; it comes from a heart that does not demand anything for itself, a heart that is completely empty of self-seeking. It is this divine forgiveness that I have to practice in my daily life. It calls me to keep stepping over all my arguments that say forgiveness is unwise, unhealthy, and impractical. It challenges me to step over all my needs for gratitude and compliments. Finally, it demands of me that I step over that wounded part of my heart that feels hurt and wronged and that wants to stay in control and put a few conditions between me and the one whom I am asked to forgive.”
I thought surely I would feel much better after I blurted out all of my frustrations and unloaded my wrath. Sadly, I used “justice” as an excuse for my tirade. Jesus does not give us due justice, He is faithful to respond in covering grace, a message I’m reminded of every time I wash out another dirty diaper. Let us all agree that these bitter, barren branches will transform into canopies of sweet shade as we grow and stretch out towards a fruitful season of grace.
“The mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart” Matthew 12:34