“For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.”
April was abloom with tiny buds beginning to burst, daffodils pushing through the cold ground and all the promise of spring was pulsing through our home. Many years ago, the Saturday before Easter found my girls and me working together, preparing our traditional Easter feast. A dozen people would join us, so we were busy little bees, bumping into each other, scurrying around the kitchen island, preparing sumptuous recipes that would feed a crowd. My own sweet girl, grasping for her own place in our kitchen as the youngest, had decided to make the special deviled eggs we had enjoyed as a family for many years. She had peeled 24 hard boiled eggs (quite a feat in itself!) and then got a bright idea of how to make it easier, even though I had already explained to her the best way to fill the eggs.
She had good inclinations, but her effort to stuff a flimsy, plastic sandwich bag with egg filling resulted in a mess everywhere–I have never seen so much egg yellow on the hands of any one individual! “How in the world had she managed to fumble such an easy task?” I thought, in bad-attitude irritation, neglecting how hard she had been trying. Of course, this situation occured at the end of an already-long afternoon of cooking and preparation, so my adrenalin was at an all-time low. She could surely sense how irritated I was.
This is Easter. Today, I celebrate the truth that though I am not perfect and never will be, Jesus saved me out of my dilemma and chose me and sacrificed for me that I could know His love and grace every single day. Even Easter dinners needed to be the place to celebrate this wonderful truth.
And so the Lord poked my heart, and I felt ashamed that I had just prayed a prayer of thanks this very morning of worship of Him, my humble, sympathetic savior, and now was experiencing my own selfish thoughts and impatience. Suddenly gave me eyes to see this precious young woman--my sweet little girl--in the throes of growing up. Insecurity and frustration flashed from her dark eyes as she watched me clean up her mess. I thought about what I wanted to leave in her heart’s memory. After taking a couple of minutes to ponder what I was going to say, I led her to the couch, and gave her a cup of tea.
“Most precious,” (one of my nicknames for her) “you have been so exceedingly helpful and thoughtful today. The table you set looks lovely; the groceries are all put away, and you have labored by my side for hours. I don’t know what I would do without your help. Many times I have baked bread and then burned it or grilled something outside that ends up tough as nails. Frustration tempts me to rage inside sometimes, because I hate to waste time and ruin the food I have cooked. So, I know how you must have felt when the bag kept breaking and the mess just poured out. I am so sorry if I offended you in any way. You are such a treasure to me and I know you were trying to do a good job. Thanks so much for all the ways you have helped me this week!”
A sheepish grin crossed her face. She climbed into my lap; long, gangly, teenage legs and all, and said, “I am so thankful that you always love me, mommy.” A kiss on the cheek … and she was gone.
Time and age has convinced me of my propensity to be selfish and immature. Even now, at 65, I think, “Next year I will be more mature.” Consequently, my gratitude has grown immensely, knowing that I don’t have to perform for the Lord, I will never be as good as I wish I could be, but He knows that. . He is mindful that I am but dust, and yet He still calls me His own special child. The amount of times He has had to bear with me, love me and give me grace has made me so much more apt to love and forgive and bear with my sweet yet still immature children and husband and friends.
I know they will make mistakes and be selfish and sinful-- just like me!-- but I know that I can only please God and have peace in my own heart when I choose to love them. And in practicing loving them, my own heart swells with more love, good thoughts, and generosity.
Sometimes, I will have a critical thought toward Clay or the kids or a friend. (Can you imagine?! -ha!) If I foster the thought, it nurtures self-righteousness and resentment and anger. When I choose to look at the relationship with eyes of love, to take the thought or attitude captive, I can get perspective. This is a person dear to me, and we have history together. They have a personality that comes with as many flaws as mine does. I am not primarily the focus of their lives, and they do not live to hurt my feelings!
I need to remember that love covers a multitude of sin.
I remember that this person is an immature toddler or exhausted baby or hormonal young woman or middle-aged hormonal woman or a somewhat immature, irrational, waiting-for-his-frontal-cortex-to-connect "teen" young man or a tired, worn-out husband who’s had too many days of work. Then I remember how much I need grace in all of my own fragile times. I also remind myself that I will please my precious, patient Lord Jesus if I obediently act in love.
Then I cover the person with grace, say words of patience and kindness, and am amazed that feelings of love usually follow and the relationship improves rather than being broken. Good feelings often accompany obedience.
This is not a formula that always works--I am not looking for always having the right results--but it is a way of life that, practiced over many years, has turned my heart more towards loving, resting, and accepting those valued relationships. In return, I find I am blessed in ample love that the Lord pours out into my heart. If I sow love, I will reap love. My love becomes a blessing to me in return.
We are all constantly confronted with a multitude of opportunities to choose to love or to choose to stir up strife. Loving on a consistent basis is a choice that becomes a habit and eventually changes our heart’s response. We all get frustrated sometimes with our children’s mistakes. The important thing is to correct our own bad reactions before we hurt their precious hearts!
Indeed, in the end, how we loved will be a measure of how we lived. May His truly amazing grace cover you all over this weekend as we remember that we are the blessed ones because we have known His grace and love.
I pray you have a wonderful Easter weekend!