Be kind to one another, compassionate,It doesn't take much to realize that selfishly railing about one's own plans and desires doesn't equate with being kind, compassionate, or imitating Christ. So I knew what I had to admit...again.
forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.
Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love,
as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us
as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma. Eph 4:32–5:2
Yup...I screwed up, God. But what is new, right? I wish I could understand how I can be so focused on You, Father, at one point in my day...or may even just hours or minutes before...and then so quickly forsake it all for the sake of my "self." It seems to happen so suddenly...I become vehement about what I think I need or want...and feel it is my right...or that I deserve it. And before I know it...I am lashing out at whoever or whatever is in the way of me getting what I "need" or want. And it always starts with a seemingly innocent thought or action...either mine or someone else's. It's crazy to think how many things are said or done that simply move through my mind like the ticker tape. Most don't linger...but for some reason...sometimes...something catches or drags in the forefront of my mind. But even then, I imagine if I stopped there and looked to You...said a prayer...asked for Your help...offered this thought/action to You...then maybe it would be over before anything began. But too often I don't do that. I start to think about what was said or done (or what wasn't said or done). And inevitably my first concern is how that affects me. That is when the trouble begins. Why did he/she say/do that? Didn't they consider how I would feel? Did they say/do that on purpose? Why am I always the one people say/do this to? And the list goes on. Talk about your slippery slope! As soon as I give just one of those questions a moment of thought...it seems as though they all are entertained at once...and I start to feel hurt or angry or bitter or all of these or something else. Once that happens, fight or flight kicks in...and I start to defend myself...to take what should be mine ("respect," "consideration," "freedom," "an apology," whatever). From that point on, I am no longer thinking about anyone else but me.
I can imagine, Father, that if it wasn't for the pain these tantrums cause, You might just chuckle at them when they happen. It must be quite a sight to see this creation of Yours so totally dependent on You...so obviously not in control of almost anything...flailing and swinging at the world trying to demand his/her "rights" or to get his/her "needs" met. And all this despite the fact that this creation knows (at least most of the time) that You are the source of everything...that You love him/her...and that You gladly and abundantly supply all that he/she needs. What a sad display it must be when I try to take control of meeting my needs and obtaining my wants...so futile and so clearly backwards.
But the joy, Father, is that despite these continual failings on my part...You provide the way out of my self...the way back to You. First, You remind me of the reason for needing to abandon myself: "Christ loved us and handed himself over for us [me] as a sacrificial offering...." We were saved at a great cost. You love us so much, that You didn't think twice about doing whatever it would take. You loved...and so we live.
Second, You pick me up...lift me up...out of myself. You have already forgiven me by the time the request reaches my lips. And not only do You forgive, but You saved me from the eternal consequences of my sin.
You are merciful....You are compassionate...You are Good. You humbled Yourself...for my sake. You endured unspeakable humiliations and deprivations...for my sake. You allowed Yourself....Your Son...to be tortured...abused...spit upon...degraded...for my sake. How did You do it, Jesus? How did You restrain Yourself from wiping out all those who dare hurt You...who dare deny that You are God's Son? Surely You could have destroyed them all...and who among us would have blamed You? But that is why Your ways are not our ways.
I can only imagine You did it...You endured all for our sake...not by focusing on Yourself....but by focusing on others...by focusing on Your/Our Father. You decided to serve...rather than be serve. You decided to put us first....rather than demand that You be first (as You most assuredly deserve). You crucified Your own flesh, long before the first nail ever pierced You. And I guess that is what I have to do. I have to be like You. As best I can...in each situation I have to remember...that You endured far worse...You humbled Yourself far more...and so who am I to demand my "rights." Yup...that's what I need to do. That is what I should have done. I knew it!