Friday, December 14, 2012

{gifts of the season} the one in which I battle myself and slay my selfish desires...AGAIN...

For the past few days, I've been anxiously anticipating sharing with you the latest gift of the season.  The beautiful discovery.  The moment in which I slowly unwrapped the very thing God had placed in my heart.

The words that were forming in my heart.  The very ones that would allow me to share this gift.  Were lost.  Gone.  In the blink of a eye.

Life happened.  Erasing all the pretty {if but for a brief moment} and leaving destruction and chaos in it's wake.

My heart has been stewing on something.  I have been gnawing on it until my teeth hurt.  My head hurt.  My heart broke.

The pressure and tension of the elephant on my chest gave way yesterday.  And all that was bubbling and simmering beneath the surface exploded in a mess of tears and venom.  Anger spewed from me like lava from a volcano. 

As conviction pierced my heart like a sharp, shiny sword, I felt the all-too-familiar nudge.  The elbow of the Spirit in my side.  The urging to tell the story.  The need to be transparent.

But like I've said before, being transparent isn't always pretty.  It isn't always wrapped up in pretty paper with an elegant bow.  It doesn't always come with the warm fuzzies.  Sometimes, in order for God to work through my mess, I have to tell the story of how the mess was created.  And once the story has been told, I have to roll up my sleeves, fall on my knees and begin the long process of scrubbing and scouring and cleaning.  Until my heart shines like brand, new again.

Nestle in for a bit, if you will, while I tell the story of my mess.  And how I've started the not-so-pretty process of cleaning it up...

Allow me to introduce myself.  I am a peacekeeper.  Not to be confused with a peacemaker.

A peacemaker seeks to confront a problem or situation and bring peace to those affected by it.  Peacemakers search the heart of God and offer a solution based on Truth and Love.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Matthew 5:9

This is not me.  At least not lately.

Instead, I'm a peacekeeper.  I keep the peace.  I keep my mouth shut.  I do not voice my feelings or opinions on things that directly affect me in my closest relationships.  I would much rather avoid the confrontation at all cost.  This ensures that other's are not angered or hurt by my words or actions. 

Rather, I hurt myself. 

By allowing situations and less-than-loving tones of voices and unseen-unmet desires fall by the wayside, my emotions build and build, simmering beneath the surface, waiting to spew forth the damage they have done in my heart.

A decision was recently made in one of my relationships.  A decision that was not what I wanted. 

Contrary to my normal behavior, I did voice my feelings over the decision.  I cried.  Alot.  And I tried my best to let it go.  I prayed that it would not affect my relationships.  Truly, I do not want this situation to come between me and those that I love.  And I never want to withhold happiness from my loved ones by denying them something they desire.

My loved one said to me that we would never have come to an agreement on this issue.

They were right. 

We probably never would have met in the middle, seen eye-to-eye and made a good decision that felt right for both of us.  Because we both feel passionately about our sides, our needs, our wants, our desires. 

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you,
live at peace with everyone.
Romans 12:18

So, I vowed not to say another word about the decision.  I even tried to play the martyr.  The one who would help come up with solutions and work through the details of the decision.  But even my best efforts could not mask the pain and anger that was brewing just beneath.  Just below the fake smile and seemingly happy heart.  As if happy were but a mere coat that could cover the true feelings.  

It wasn't until other small conflicts arose throughout the week that everything came to a boil.  I spent most of yesterday grasping for something, anything to steady myself.  Gasping for breath every other minute because the waves of anxiety were violent, so fierce I feared they would overtake me.  Feared I would be swallowed up and devoured by the burning, seething bitterness and resentment that I had allowed to reach a rolling boil in my heart. 

So, what did I do? 

I took the lid off the pot.

And it spewed over.  Onto every surface within arms reach. 

As much as I do not want to admit it {and I've even wrestled with God over why I had to be so transparent about this}, I allowed my daughter to see my angry face.  It ain't pretty.  Not saying that any of my other faces are pretty, but this one's sure to make anyone run for cover. 

On my way to my staff Christmas party last night, God and I had a one-on-one, loud conversation.  I yelled.  And I felt Him speaking just as loud in my soul.  But what I heard wasn't what I was expecting.  Rather, it was quite contrary to all the righteousness I felt.  I was expecting Him to be on my side.  To flood my heart with the peace that surpasses all understanding because I was the wronged party.  I was the one who was hurting.  I was the one who was making sacrifices.  Blah, blah, blah. 

That wasn't what He told me. 

Instead, in His loving, caring, tender way, He told me I was selfish.  He told me that I was self-righteous.  He told me I was wrong.

He told me to put it all down.  To let it go.  To stop holding it all in and playing a martyr in this relationship.  To stop acting like I was the perfect party. 

'Is it really a sacrifice, when you begrudgingly consent to something, all the while wondering how you can get something you want out of the deal?'

'Is your relationship truly at peace when you deny your feelings and refuse to discuss the things that matter to your heart?'

'My sweet, Jessica, there is a difference between a peacekeeper and a peacemaker.  Stop keeping the peace.  Seek Me first and I will give you the peace you crave.'

He said all of that to me.  Just as clear to my soul as any audible conversation I've ever had.  So I slammed the car door and left Him there. 

After all, I had a party to attend.

But, He followed me to the party.  He was still there on the drive home from the party.  Still whispering the loving Truth into my heart.  Truth that I kept reciting in the dark.  In the quiet. 

As the journey home got shorter and shorter, I felt the peace I so desired start creeping into my inner most parts.  Into the parts that I had stuffed so full of past hurts and pains.  Into the very parts that were spilling over with things I had shoved down hard.  Practically choking on the peace that I was keeping by not uttering a word. 

It is going to take a while to empty all those places.  And fill them back up with peace.  But we are making progress.

I looked in the mirror this morning and felt words different than what I was prepared to share.  Words that would reveal a side of me I had done my best to conceal.  I felt the elbow to the soul.  The nudge in my heart. 

I violently shook my head.  I flat-out said no.  I told Him about the other gift that I wanted to share.  The gift that was pretty and wrapped up so nice and would make others feel good.  The gift that would not expose my imperfections or the darkness that can lurk in my heart. 

He reminded me that had given me a gift in this situation, too. 

A gift to remind me of my selfish, sinful ways.  A gift of His unending, abundant love and grace and mercy. A gift to share with others, so that those who read my story may know that He does, indeed, work all things together for good. 

I do not have to like the decision that was made.  But I have a choice in how I respond to the decision. 

I praised Him for new mercies this morning.  I claimed them as personal gifts.  I sought guidance and direction from Him when I felt the same old feelings trying to simmer. 

I even asked my sweet girl to forgive me for showing her my angry face.

Her response, 'Otay, Mama.  I wanna cookie.'

That was His response too, as I laid it all at the Cross this morning. 

Well, except for the cookie part.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure;
then peace-loving, considerate, submissive,
full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.  
Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
James 3:17-18

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