Am I the only one stressed out most Sunday mornings, desperately trying to get my kids ready in time, only to find that I don’t have time to get myself ready? How many times have I pathetically compared myself to Cinderella and her plight of having so many needs to attend to that she wasn’t able to get her own dress ready for the ball?
This past Sunday was no exception. In one respect, it was different. I had woken up with plenty of time to get ready. Why doesn’t that help me? My husband would probably like to know the answer to that question, too. I had actually gotten plenty of things accomplished Sunday morning, but it was getting closer and closer to the time when we needed to be leaving, and I still hadn’t started on myself. Neither had I done anything with Little E’s hair, a wild entity that almost always needs to be tamed to some degree before we walk out the door, and Sunday was no exception–at least in my opinion. In Greg’s opinion, it looked beautiful, as did her tennis shoes under her Sunday dress. He wanted to make sure that we left on time, and it didn’t look to him that it was going to happen (I don’t know why not–maybe past experience?), so he did what he could to help–got Little E and the other two in the car and turned on a short video for them as they waited for me to be ready.
There were a couple of problems with that, however. One, whenever Greg gets the kids in the car early (and it was nearly fifteen minutes before we had to leave), I feel like he is deliberately pushing me and shaming me for not being ready when I should be. Is he doing or feeling any of this? No, he’s just trying to help us get out the door on time.
Two, as I already mentioned, Little E’s hair was not ready, and as this has gone unnoticed by him before, and as I have talked to him about this before, I felt like he was not bothering to care about what is important to me (namely, to make my children appear kempt–not a word, but exactly what I mean). Of course, the real reason this is important to me probably has more to do with my worry about what others think of ME, which explains the elevated response to this, but getting back to the point, did Greg really not care about me when he put Little E in the car? No, he simply isn’t aware of girl hair issues–she looked fine to him–and once again, he was simply trying to get us out the door on time.
Therefore, he didn’t understand when I burst into the garage and angrily summoned Little E back in the house, causing her to burst into tears at having to leave the video she was happily watching with her brothers. This didn’t make the hair styling go very nicely.
By the time I got into the car, on time, thank you very much (can you hear my pride?), I was seething. I deliberately brought a book with me to read so I could pointedly not have conversation with my husband. Did he notice? No, he thought I just wanted to read my book. Can I just say now that he was pretty shocked when I later asked him to apologize for how he had acted that morning?
In the middle of that car ride to church, a song by Matthew West came on that immediately caught my attention and made me put my book in my lap. The words were,
“It’s the hardest thing to give away and the last thing on your mind today. It always goes to those who don’t deserve. It’s the opposite of how you feel when the pain they caused is just too real. Takes everything you have to say the word: forgiveness.
It flies in the face of all your pride. It moves away the mad inside. It’s always anger’s own worst enemy. Even when the jury and the judge say you got a right to hold a grudge, it’s the whisper in your ear saying set it free: forgiveness.”
At that moment, I still felt that I had a right to be angry–that he was in the wrong and that I had done nothing wrong. As I think of it now, it just sounds silly–I am that way when I’m in the grip of my pride. But I felt that I did have a choice. I could choose to forgive him, and I felt immediately that if I did, I would feel light again–truly the proverbial weight on my soul would be lifted. I prayed right then for God to give me the grace to forgive even in the midst of my anger.
I wish I could say that God answered that prayer at that moment–sometimes He does say yes to my half-hearted prayers. I think He knew my heart just didn’t want to let go of that anger yet. So I chose to keep my eyes turned from Greg’s; I chose to remain cold instead of letting God melt me. I could have chosen the forgiveness that would have felt so much better, but I chose the bitterness that really only hurt me. It wasn’t until I was pulled into the grip of God’s love for me through joyful, infectious worship songs at church that I let my petty hurt go and forgave him.
And I’m realizing right now: we can’t love and forgive the way God desires until we let ourselves be filled up with His love, filled so full that we spill that love and forgiveness on others.