I always feel like it’s pretty wild how God works within my life. When I take time to sit back and ask the question of myself:
What has God been slapping me in the face with lately?
I don’t actually mean physically slap, but metaphorically. Often when I take the time to ask that question I will see a theme pop up. Something that I need to work on or something that I know God is using to make me stronger for something that lies ahead. Recently for me it’s been a powerful need to work on love and forgiveness.
A few posts ago, I shared about my Pastor’s sermon on love which tore at me deeply in more ways then just the neighborhood runner. –insert slap in face- I’ve been struggling recently with some children in my kids lives that are just mean. It’s heartbreaking as a mom to watch and listen to what is going on. To calm the need to just march on over to that kid and slap them in the face and tell them what a horrible kid they are. To also calm the need to just march on over to the parents and slap them in the face and tell them what horrible children they have. But instead God is slapping me in the face with reminders of my need to love and love and just love again. I have a prayer notebook filled with prayers. Just today I read a constant prayer I pray for my kids:
May my children understand that forgiveness doesn’t justify the other person’s actions; instead it sets them free from hurt, bitterness, and anger.
-insert slap in the face- Clearly I need to be praying this prayer also for myself. Because I am beginning to see the importance of forgiveness which eventually leads to love. This theme of forgiveness just leads back to the theme of love.
Last week I was cleaning up my laundry room and came across a handwritten note from my youngest that said I forgive you. -insert slap in the face- I was immediately reminded of Thanksgiving night. Our family of five had just shared in a wonderful dinner and had all snuggled onto the couch to watch a movie together in front of the fire. Not 15 minutes into the movie I made a horrible decision to start a pretty deep conversation where I was demanding vulnerability from everyone. I’m not sure what made me feel that was the appropriate time nor why I thought anyone would want to share feelings under such demands. It did not end well. In fact, I stormed out of the room like a spoiled child and spent an hour crying in the shower and on the bathroom floor because of my foolish behavior. I prayed (more liked begged) God to change me and my need to control every situation around me. It was super sad and a terrible end to Thanksgiving. Because everyone ended up going to bed without me saying goodnight, I hand wrote a note of apology to each of my family members and taped them to their doors. Two days later I found my letter to my youngest flipped over on her nightstand with those very powerful words written on them:
I forgive you
Even two days later I breathed a sigh of relief. It made me feel better to hear those three words. To know everything was going to be all right. I’m realizing I need to be more forthcoming with my own words of “I forgive you”. I know how it feels to be on the receiving end of those words – I need to be better at handing those words out to others. Even if they aren’t sorry or don’t apologize – because by handing those words out to others it frees me from bitterness and anger. It frees me to be at peace. It frees me to love.
The last two days when I’ve sat down to study my devotions, it’s been on scripture that also has been leading me back to this theme of love. -insert a double slap in the face-
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. – Romans 13:8
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. – Philippians 4:11-12
God’s love and peace fill each of us up. He fills us with his Spirit so that we can be content to just be us. To be the person God created each of us to be. This doesn’t mean every day we will wake up happy and dancing. But it does mean that his peace will fill us with contentment no matter what. That contentment will make it easier to forgive and much easier to love. When we love more, we will show more compassion and kindness to others.
I’m so thankful for the love God pours onto me daily. I’m so thankful for his constant working in my life…wanting what’s better for me so I can just sit and be content with me. Some days it’s hard to acknowledge that I need to work on something (like love and forgiveness) but when I do work hard at acknowledging what he’s “slapping me in the face” with – I’m usually better for it.
What themes are God working on you with during this season of your life??!!??