Lies that fuel worry

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Sleepless in Balsam

Sleepless

That was me – Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights.  Couldn’t turn off my mind from pursuing one thought after another.

Nothing bad, just the possibility of another job for next year.

And it wasn’t a sense of joyful anticipation that fueled my thoughts, but a chewing on the pros and cons.

Relief finally came via reminders of Truth.

  • When I woke up Saturday morning REALLY tired despite lying in bed for 8 hours, the Holy Spirit gently chided me that I had failed to take advantage of Almighty God’s loving command to cast all my cares on Him.
  • Christian Community provided more light on what was True.

Anne and Wes were here for the weekend.  Listening to Anne describe her thought process on one of her issues (and what turned out to be a lie she had swallowed) helped me see some presuppositions I, myself, had accepted as Truth.  As it happened for Anne, finally admitting to a trusted Christian friend one of her ‘facts’ (aka –  an unsubstantiated belief), she was able to see, in the light of day, what her friend was able gently but rationally to point out.  Her account of thinking incorrectly helped me to look at what I had accepted as fact.

Here are were a few of my irrational thoughts mixed in with half-truths:

  • Those who are good teachers LOVE the field of education and teaching
  • I don’t love teaching but I enjoy some aspects of it
  • Therefore, I must be a fraud
  • Furthermore, I should not, AT MY AGE, attempt to move into a new educational opportunity
  • Something new might involve MORE work and a greater time commitment
  • I’m basically lazy anyway
  • Therefore, I would again be FAKING energy and interest that I don’t have in an interview

Listening to Anne gave me pause.  Maybe not ALL of my assumptions are true!  Maybe it’s irrational to compare myself to the best in my field.  Maybe my ‘good enough’ is sufficient for God’s purposes where I am.  Maybe where I am has less to do with teaching/educational work, than with being present for my ‘neighbors’ in my daily community.

Good Enough

One new thought prompted another as Anne shared from her life.  Maybe Satan is the source of some of these assumptions in order to discourage me from investing energy in my work life.  Hm – that hadn’t occurred to me. I default to believing that my thoughts have their origin in me.

And maybe it’s not about being good enough, or the best or wildly enthusiastic.  Maybe it’s about being faithful today, where I am, with what I’ve been given to do.  And to do IT with His power and wisdom and energy.

A comforting image came to me as I laid down for a nap on Saturday afternoon.  It was of the relief and ordinariness of just being a sheep in the Father’s fold.  Just a good sheep.  Voilà – my new ambition.  “Maria – just be a good little sheep!”

sheep So that is what I aspire to, this day.  Not to invent/create/or pursue my own goals, but to follow my all-sufficient Shepherd.  After all, He promises that as one of His sheep:

  • I will lack nothing
  • I will receive sufficient rest, energy and strength for the day
  • I will be directed, not for my sake, but for the honor of His name and character as the Good Shepherd
  • I will feast on royal food and be anointed with family oil reminding me of whose I am EVEN in the midst of enemies

Finally, to ensure that I clearly understood my Father in this matter yesterday, the Holy Spirit guided my podcast listening to a sermon in which the pastor taught from Romans 8.  The verse that was for me was verse 14:

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God”

Working backwards, I reasoned thus: Since I know that I have been adopted into God’s family and am a co-heir with Jesus, my brother, then ipso facto, the Spirit DOES lead me.  The Greek word is ‘ago’ (Strongs # 71) and it can mean COMPEL, DRIVE, BRING.  Much stronger words, then ‘lead’, wouldn’t you say?

If God is sovereign, then I can trust Him to drive me or keep me where He wants me.  And concerning this other job possibility I WILL turn over the next card and do what is at hand, this day, but I will pray to remember NOT to pre-occupy myself with the future.

Can anyone relate?

God uses ALL things, even the ‘Beast Within’

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I heard a sermon where the pastor made reference to Paul’s lament of not being able to control his inner beast:

Romans 7:21 – 24  So I find this law at work:  When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.  What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?

Those most honest with themselves, especially Christians, will sometimes despair, like the ‘Super Apostle’ Paul, of ever being rescued from the struggle.  I think we ASSUME that eventual sanctification will rid us of this ‘can’t be me version!’.

Johnny Cash

 

Even contemporary cultural icons like Johnny Cash could recognize the battle within:  His song ‘The Beast In Me’  chronicles his struggle to tame the evil self within.  Lyrics to his song

 

 

My beast came out in a hurtful way a couple of days ago.  My mother-in-law is with us this week.  Driving back from a lovely outing to Biltmore, she and I were dancing around social issues and lightly touching the topic of her denomination when one of its prominent former leaders came up.  She made me chuckle when she called him a name that I would NOT have expected from the lips of an 85-year old dignified lady!

My choice when I got home was to:

  • tell Mike privately so he could share my smile
  • tell Mike in her presence as we were fixing dinner

Even though I KNEW that by raising it publicly I risked opening up a can of worms – i.e. discussion about areas of disagreement between Mike and his mom, the beast within me carried the day.

And the pattern I predicted bore its sour fruit.  My dad used to call what I did – ‘pulling wings off of flies’ (that deliberate engaging people in their soft spots with the intention of provoking and hurting them.)

As Mike and his mom engaged, his emotions got the better of him and the tenor of his voice changed in intensity and volume.  His mother criticized his MANNER of discussing the issue and he reacted to her criticism like he was a teen at home and the atmosphere got awkward.  I changed the subject feeling remorse and shame, knowing all along that I had deliberately set Mike up.

As you might have surmised, this is not the FIRST time I have deliberately stirred the pot with my poisonous words.

*

But God…!!!

Those wonder-filled, power-affirming 2 words:  as I repented and asked for forgiveness from my heavenly Father the next morning on my walk, I started praying for my husband’s heart and for his relationship with his mom.  I could tell that he had gone to bed bothered and sad.  We hadn’t talked about it.  But I know him.  And worse….I KNEW what I had done.

Later during that next day, I asked him if he were alright.  And he mentioned he was still bothered by the previous night.  As I had been praying for his heart, I just offered the suggestion that if he were to approach his mom and apologize for raising his voice, she might be so startled at this new behavior. And who knew just how God might use that softer side of Mike?  I offered this glimpse of his mom’s possible reaction and a way to clear the air as a suggestion.

He later reported to me that he had done the very thing….and felt better.

*

I re-learned two facts:

  • I need continually to be praying that only what is KIND, true and necessary be what comes out of my mouth. The corollary to THAT is that I must not forget that my first inclination at times is to do what is NOT loving and pleasing to my Father.
  • God IS able to use all our sin for our good and His glory.  Not that we should sin on freely, but that we don’t have to despair each time the beast pops his ugly head out –  unbidden.

Returning to Paul’s admission of his personal on-going struggle with his wicked nature, the comforting reminder in Romans 7 picks up with his question in verse 24b – Who will rescue me from this body of death?

verse 25 – THANKS BE TO GOD – THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD!

God works all things

 

 

 

 

 

 

*I’m thankful that I still have a few more days to practice kindness with my mom-in-law, relying on God to give me both the desire,  the will and the strength to keep the beast tied up!

When measuring is a snare

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Get out of jail free

Romans 6:14 uses words to describe our ‘freedom’ card.

The first translation is from the NIV and the second is the Message

 

 

  • For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.
  • Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God.

I’m reading a book that Graham gave me for Mothers’ Day.   Here’s the link  –  Punch Fear in the Face – Start

Jon Acuff Bk Punch Fear...
One of the author’s premises is that people have these internal voices that authoritatively talk to us in messages that are anything but positive.  And…(here is the kicker)..we BELIEVE them!  They are particularly active anytime we entertain a new direction like:

 

 

  • start an exercise program
  • go back to school
  • research a possible business idea
  • ask for a raise
  • confront another person who has hurt us
  • stop a bad habit
  • ask someone out for a date
  • audition for a part
  • apply for a job
  • dust off a dream
  • change churches

His remedy is to articulate out loud what the voices say, think about the message in the light of day and speak truth back to them, thereby quenching their power……for the time being. I actually had the courage, yesterday, to do just that and it was liberating. woman in the shower       I don’t like washing my hair because it means staying in the shower longer than normal which means I have to confront what I think is a poofy tummy (I know…TMI!).  For the first time, however, I recognized this thought as ONE OF THOSE INSIDIOUS VOICES!!.  So I talked back to it and said – “Wait a second.  A tummy is NOT a shoulder bone.  Shoulders are hard, tummies are round and soft – that’s just how they are made.  So what if it feels poofy?” And that was that – the voice went back into hiding and I was left feeling free!

I had read the above verse in Romans the other day and suddenly made the connection.  Anytime I MEASURE myself vis-à-vis others using an imaginary standard in my mind, I EITHER feel superior or inferior.  And what I have done for that moment is to step back INTO the prison cell of the Kingdom of Darkness where Law reigns and sin is the norm.

Measuring and comparing oneself to others is to forget that we have already been sprung from the World’s Way.  We have been transferred into the Kingdom of Light, by Grace.  We didn’t collect enough brownie points to EARN our way into it. We were liberated from our dark prison cell.  The door swung wide and we walked out into the Light where we have

  • value because God chose us and paid for our release
  • an inheritance we don’t have to earn
  • freedom NOT to play the ‘measurement’ game

In essence – we now live in OPEN space in the LIGHT under a completely different system that uses the currency of grace, not merit.

And….we find ourselves frequently running back to that dark prison of measuring ourselves in comparison to others, a system familiar to the point that it’s almost comforting.

prison bars

The good news is that the door stays open and we can turn around (repent) and walk back into the light.

Knowing that is like sticking your hand in your pocket and finding that Get Out of Jail Free card!

Expect opposition if you are in God’s will

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Opposition - chess pieces

 

 

 

Saul had just been anointed Israel’s first King as recounted in the book, 1 Samuel, chapter 10.

24 Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see him whom the Lord has chosen? Surely there is no one like him among all the people.” So all the people shouted and said, “ Long live the king!”……
(25b)….  and Samuel sent all the people away, each one to his house. 26 Saul also went to his house at Gibeah; and the valiant men whose hearts God had touched went with him. 27 But certain worthless men said, “How can this one deliver us?” And they despised him and did not bring him any present. But he kept silent.

I am learning that you can be in God’s will and right where He wants you to be AND there will be push back and opposition.  The question then emerges: Why are we surprised?

Here are 3 facts:

1) Trials are intended to grow our patient trust (called steadfastness) in God.  They are necessary for us to be complete.  They are required if we are to be fully equipped, lacking nothing.

  • James 1: 2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

2) God uses every aspect of these trials, aka painful circumstances & suffering, to bring about our maturity, training and equipping.

  • Romans 8:28  And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose

3) Sometimes the secondary cause, the deliverer of the suffering/trial/hardship, is via spiritual forces of wickedness.  God, the first-cause, allows these attacks for His own good and loving reasons.

One of those ‘good’ reasons is so we will KNOW how real and safe God’s Word is.  Last week, I re-learned that lesson.

I had gone about 6 weeks with no parent complaints in this my first year in a new school.

No complaints since

 

 

 

 

I really didn’t see this one coming.  And when the complaint filtered down to me via my principal (I explicitly excluded a disruptive child when I passed out mini marshmallows for good participation in class), I was emotionally drained.  My confidence and enjoyment of the students had been growing since the nadir in January.   But this episode set me back.

My tête-à-tête with my principal happened on a Thursday.  And the following Monday I felt even lower.  It was like I had lost all sense of purpose in life. I seriously considered how much money I could make cleaning homes as an alternative to THIS!!!

My poor husband didn’t know how to react to his normally optimistic, perky wife.  But he defaulted to the most effective use of his time and words.   He prayed fervently most of the evening, unlike Job’s friends.

And praise be to God, the next morning, something that Tullian Tchividjian said in a podcast brought relief.  He was recounting his ‘year from Hell’, his first year as senior pastor of  Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft Lauderdale.  And MY thought was this: “I bet Tullian seriously considered resigning and going to work at Lowe’s to support his family!”   My next thought tumbled out: “Wow!  Then we would have been deprived of his ministry of grace, his books and the Liberate Conferences!  I bet this was spiritual attack by those who were bent on stopping any advance in the Kingdom!”

Spir Warfare - the lion

 

 

 

And just with that thought, I was ‘right-side-up’ again with purpose and renewed resolve NOT to let the enemy defeat me.  It might be that God’s will for me at that school is just for this year.  That decision is in His hands.  But for now, I will fight on, determined to reach out to my students and colleagues and be available to them.  I am learning the absolute reality and security of God’s word.  As my cousin Terry reminded me:

No wpn formed against you

 

 

 

 

 

And thank you, Michael, for your prayers.  As James points out, “the fervent prayers of a man who is in right-standing with God make A LOT of power available!” (James 5:16)

If God is for me, what about all those other expectations?

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I get the message of grace, I think.  

I don’t have to earn God’s love, His approval, salvation from His anger at my sin, future life with him…all those almost unimaginable good gifts.  When God woke me up to my true condition and offered me the way of salvation and created in me the mind and desire to WANT to repent and accept His offer, all that and more were mine….forever.

I know I have HIS stamp of ‘it’s finished’ on me…why do I crave the approval and satisfaction of other humans?

Seeking that approval translates into meeting the expectations of others.

Expectations

Most of these I invent myself – I project.  For instance:

  • a colleague showcases a very clever class project finale on You Tube.  It’s applauded by the administration and I translate that as an expectation that I will be as creative in my classes.
  • I read about other foreign language teachers whose students are so enthralled with what goes on in class, that they don’t even know they are acquiring language.
  • a Christian wife mentions her and her husband’s ministry in their neighborhood and how they invite people over for dinner regularly, to share the gospel and serve.
  • close friends host ‘grandparent camp’ each summer at their house and gather the cousins for a week of fun and life lessons.

All these expectations weigh me down.  There are  a host of others too.  They belong to that category of even more personal than I care to mention.  Things like…… what I imagine a ‘good wife, daughter-in-law, mother-in-law, teacher, neighbor, colleague, did I say teacher?, Christian, friend’ should do.

So how do I orient my thinking, renew my mind PRACTICALLY so that I can truly say: It’s enough that God is for me, that I have HIS love and provision, that nothing will block His good and perfect future for me?

That for me is the struggle of applying God’s grace to my life.  How can I accept as enough and all-satisfying that HIS grace is sufficient when I seem to crave and think I should have the expressed approval of others?  Is it even reasonable to expect, to feel it’s worth striving for, that it is even POSSIBLE to win/earn the approval of those very important, somewhat important and tangentially important because I see them every day?

His grace is sufficient

How have you sorted this out?

Four empowering AND freeing words

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Paul prayed to God to allow him to travel to Rome and visit the believers there.

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Almost obscured, but smack-dab in the middle of verse 10, Chapter 1 are these words:

…somehow, by God’s will……

I love it for two reasons!

First – Paul doesn’t seem to worry about how God can make this happen.

Yet consider the world Paul lived in:

  • hazardous (bandits, armies, weather)
  • unpredictable (no schedules, no infrastructure)
  • hostile to Christians (they killed Christians!)
  • disconnected (no internet or phone service)

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So here is Paul’s desire:  he wants to travel to Rome to meet Christians whom he doesn’t know personally.

He doesn’t know how that would be logistically or physically possible.  But he prays anyway.

Second – Paul doesn’t know if a journey to Rome is part of God’s plan for him.  Yet he prays anyway.  Not only does he go out on a limb and share with his ministry colleagues his desires  and the fact that he is asking God to make them happen, he actually writes them down as a permanent record of his intentions.  He is going out on a trust limb, not angsting over how it’ll make God look if the answer to this prayer request is ‘NO’.

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So how do these 4 words affect us?

  • If Paul isn’t worried about the seemingly insurmountable details, then why should we? I keep telling myself that God is the ‘out-of-the-box’ provider.  He is creative and has at His divine disposal all the resources of the universe in multi-dimensional form!
  • If Paul isn’t worried about whether it is God’s will for him to travel to Rome, then why should we let our similar lack of certainty about God’s will stop us from asking/praying?

Therefore, helped by these 4 ‘middle-of-a-verse’ words – somehow, by God’s will – I continue to pray for:

  • that first client for Mike
  • continued income to pay our bills
  • direction about where to plug in at our new church
  • and a host of other needs of friends and family

Question:  What can you boldly pray to God for, trusting His divine ‘somehow’ and whether or not your request is in line with His will? Be bold and leave a comment so we can pray along with you!

Pity, Pride and Promises

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Several of my dear friends have been struggling with the very real and insidious satanic snare of: 

  • self pity – look at how terrible my circumstances are!
  • pride – these circumstances should not be happening to me!

The trick of Satan is to mask his role in promoting these depressing and self-righteous feelings!  Instead, we think they are OUR true assessment of reality.

One friend is struggling with her marriage and wishing it were otherwise.

The other friend is struggling with his vocation and wishing it were otherwise.

Who can rescue them (and us when we are so attacked) from this downward spiral that seems unending?

One version of an endless cycle

Thank God that He exists and has come that we might have life.

The other day I, TOO, felt that descent into murky grayness as I was meditating on some difficult circumstances. But before I hit dark despair, the Holy Spirit brought to mind God’s promise in Romans 8:28:

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Then I recalled

  • the FACT that God is sovereignly controlling all my circumstances
  • the FACT that God is always doing 10,000 plus things in every circumstance that touches me
  • the FACT that God predestined me to work, to help, to pray, to give, to worship, to trust in activities and projects of His own choosing
  • the FACT that God chose to give me life today for His purposes
  • the FACT that I can trust God of all ‘people’ to be consistent and true to His Word

All those thoughts got my mind OFF of my circumstance and reversed the trend of my feelings.

So dear friends, I am praying that the Holy Spirit will remind you hourly:

  • that you can trust God
  • that God is close to the broken-hearted
  • that He is allowing this circumstance, at the moment, because He has good in mind for you, for those involved and others about whose situation you might not know

So……relax, trust and remember how He has come through in the past and what He promises for your future.

1 Cor 2:9

Fatal False Guilt

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You might be a fellow member of the False Guilt Club.  I actually don’t remember being invited to join.  I think I just woke up one day and realized I was already a practicing adherent.

I spend SO much of my mental energy feeling guilty for not living up to the expectations and thoughts I imagine others have about me.

How do you know if you’re a member?

You’re a member if  SHOULD is an active part of your self-talk.

“I know I should……. (but I don’t want to)”

  • call my family members & friends more often
  • go back to church for the evening service
  • join a small group
  • attend more student extra-curricular functions at school
  • share more  time and life with neighbors
  • engage with my students in the hallway more
  • be a better wife to my husband in ways I think he must want
  • plan more creatively for holidays, birthdays…..

I spend so much energy and a good portion of my thought life dialoguing back and forth with ME about how I’m not the kind of person that I think others would like me to be,  and about how I don’t measure up to their expectations.

I’ve been asking God to help me get a handle on this, because it drives me nuts and depresses me.  I used to engage in this a lot as a parent.  That’s why I never wanted to read parenting books – they were fodder for more guilt.  Now that guilt-ridden self- talk has been renewed since I have become a grandparent.  I don’t measure up to my peers who are already grandparents.  I don’t sew clothes, Skype frequently, spend a lot of time helping the parents (our kids) out.

As I have prayed through this and thought about what the Bible has to say about guilt, I am exploring the difference between conviction of sin (result of Godly guilt) and misplaced fear of man.  This wrong ‘fear’ of man instead of  the healthy ‘fear/respect/awe of God’ is a plot straight from the pit of Hell.  Satan loves to get us so knotted up, focused MORE on us and less on God.

God speaks through Paul when He assures us that as adopted members of His family,

  • ‘there is now no condemnation for those who are united to Christ by faith’ (Romans 8:1).  With that GREAT news as a foundational truth, we are ready to hear more from God.  Through Peter, God instructs us
  • to…… put away …. all deceit and hypocrisy and envy.” (1 Pet 2:1)  The Message refers to deceit & hypocrisy as pretense.

It IS pretense when I DO something in order NOT to feel guilty for NOT doing it.  When I pretend that I want to do what I THINK you want me to do that’s just plain false.  My sole motivation is to avoid guilt and to project a certain image so you’ll approve of me and  think well of me.

Isn’t it better to be honest in a tactful and loving way and ask God to give us the desire to do what HE wants us to do?  Maybe there’s a Holy Spirit reason we gravitate towards some activities and not others.

Last year I was asked to substitute in the nursery at church for a friend.  I’m glad I didn’t have much time to angst about it. I said straight away, “Sorry, I don’t like serving in the nursery. I’ll gladly sub for you in MS or HS Sunday School, or in the kitchen or even cleaning bathrooms at church!” I know she was shocked by my confession of not really being into babies. ( I loved MINE and I’m prejudiced toward our grandkids, even if I don’t think I’m as good a grandparent as everyone else.  And there’s a reason why I teach kids aged 11 on up!)

How do you handle the imagined ‘shoulds’ in your life?  Have you come across any Biblical references to this kind of emotional turmoil?

Stressed out and exhausted?

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What if I could offer you a guaranteed cure for stress and anxiety;

a sure-fire way to enjoy harmonious, happy relationships with family members; a formula for a satisfying marriage; a method for navigating the frustrations of modern life; a technique for stretching your time each day, would you be interested?

And how much would you be willing to pay for any of those ‘tools’?

We have just moved to the Asheville, NC area.  Often called the Seattle of the East, Asheville is a magnet not only for hippies, liberals,

artists and foodies but also for the spiritual seekers.

People pay beaucoup bucks attending Deepak Chopra seminars, buying the latest book recommended by experts Dr. Oz or Oprah or learning new meditative routines. 

Consider an alternative:

Jesus offers a counter-intuitive/ outside.the.box solution to all of our problems and it’s free.

Hey there!  All who are thirsty, come to the water!  Are you penniless?  Come anyway – buy and eat!  Come buy your drinks, buy wine and milk.  Buy without money – everything’s free!  Why do you spend your money on junk food, your hard-earned cash on cotton candy?  Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best, fill yourself with only the finest.  (Isaiah 55: 1-5)

How do you like the offer FIRST of wine and THEN of milk?  Celebration first and nourishment second – that’s the way things work in the upside.down.kingdom.

The membership offer, to be part of God’s family, entails NO cost to us.  And once we are connected in the permanent way, (well as you’ve heard it quipped by that giant credit card, ‘Membership has its privileges”,)   we are the happy recipients of many riches, as described by God in his promises.

One major privilege for Christians is the promise of transformation.  Without having to work for it, once inhabited by the supernatural Spirit at our new birth, we are gradually infused with new qualities.  These are the ones that 21st century humans are running around trying to buy or work for:

  • Inner peace that comes from being reconciled with the Creator and Judge of creation
  • Patience with ourselves and with others
  • Joy and contentment with the permanent things of life
  • Love of a different kind – feeling it and being able to act in a way that others feel it too
  • A gentle nature that understands the wounded nature of others and gives them space to ‘spaz’
  • A trusting attitude that even when things go wrong, God is still in control
  • A kindly disposed response-mechanism to angry and biting fellow humans
  • A good heart that desires to copy his or her heavenly Father
  • A mind trained to be reasonable and thoughtful in all situations

You probably recognize the list – yes, these are the 9 fruits of the spirit that are our new birth-right.

But you quip, you still lack them?  Or you live with a ‘so-called-Christian’ who doesn’t exhibit many of them?

Hmm…sounds like you or your companion need to imbibe some more of that holy wine and holy milk (aka Scripture).  Paul reminds us of the FACT that we DO become different as we reflect and rejoice in the facts of our adoption.  That is what he means by, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind!”

Now doesn’t that sound like an offer too good to pass up?  Drink up (soak in the Bible’s content)  and invite your friends to the party. (you can invest your money in something more lasting than quackery!)

Men and women are different? You’re telling me!

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I should be used to it by now, my husband being annoyed with me!

But after 33 years, I still don’t like it.  I want him to view me as perfect. Trouble is, I’m a woman and I think like one.  The other day we took my car, the one with 118,000 miles on it, to do errands because Mike was going to run it through the car wash.  I had mentioned to him that on our way home, I’d like to go up Rosemount Drive near our house.  Some ladies at the ‘Balsam Babes Breakfast’ (annual summer highlight for a rural mountain hamlet in Western NC) had intrigued me with the story of a cross “just upthe 4 mile road commemorating the life of a Florida man’s daughter.

Seemed like a simple thing: just drive to the top of Rosemount.

I haven’t learned to decipher the Western North Carolinian language.  “It’s at the top of Rosemount” did not mean what I thought it did. In the clean car, we drove off the county-maintained paved road onto gravel, going higher and higher.  We also drove past Mike’s normal point of patience as he maneuvered the car round ever numerous turns.  That’s when he noticed the whining sound connected to the steering.

“Sounds like the transmission is going; climbing this hill isn’t good for the car; hear that whiny noise?” he glowered at me with a growl.

“Oh that?  I heard the same grinding and whining along the flat part of Interstate 40 last month when we convoyed from Newport News!”

After that ‘calming’ explanation, I sandwiched in apologies for leading him on a wild-goose chase.  I was doing my best to empathize with and soften his annoyance.  Did I tell you I don’t like it when he’s annoyed with me?

I continued, “You know, I have to drive to South Carolina on Sunday to catch my flight to the Dallas conference, do you think I’ll make it okay?”

“Hope so…..” he lobbed his annoyance back on my side of the court.

Mike, I’m really sorry…you paid $20 to have my car thoroughly cleaned.  I’d be annoyed too!

**

I won’t relate the rest of the conversation.  We never did find that cross…  I learned not to assume I understand Appalachian directions…..and Mike did some private talking to God later on his daily walk.  But, here’s what GOD did!

Because Mike HEARD a noise that was NOT good, we looked up transmissions on the internet and I called a local place and prayerfully made plans to take the car in on Thursday.   Transmission repairs or replacements are costly and we are vulnerable when it comes to knowing whom we can trust in a new community.  God provided!  The transmission guy quickly determined it was probably a power steering problem and referred me to a local mechanic up the road. (I pinned him down and rehearsed the verbal directions to my satisfaction!)

This mechanic turned out to be a Christian AND honest.  He ordered the part; I brought the car BACK to him on Friday and he fixed it.  Not only was my car prepared to make the drive to the Greenville/Spartanburg airport today, we found an honest local mechanic who can work on both our cars in the future.

Had I NOT led us on a wild goose chase; had Mike NOT been annoyed with the vague directions, the gravel dust and then the whiny sound, we would not have been blessed in such significant ways.

God DOES use all things to the good of those who are His, even annoyance. Why should I be bothered by the very natural reaction of a man living with a woman who doesn’t always think or communicate like he does?  Furthermore, why should we expect to live annoyance-free lives?

Here’s to God’s promise to… “cause all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

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