Thursday, February 23, 2012

The root of mercy

January was a long hard month.  Really long and really hard.  We had just over three weeks of really wicked stomach bugs that we just passed around and around (well, they passed...Mama never got sick - I just had to clean up after all of them!). 

Then my Nana was taken to the hospital for a week long stay after a dangerously low blood sugar and now is finishing up a month or so of inpatient rehab. 

And the Big Sarge switched over to third shift. 

And I've been really, really, really tired.  And thus, really, really, really rude.  To everyone.  But mostly my husband.

At some point this month, I made a conscious decision to really pray about my mouth and its destructive power.  And I've been doing pretty well.  Not perfect...but, my name's not Jesus. 
I'll give you an example:  the other day, The Big Sarge said something that really irritated me.  Really.  I just totally thought that what he said was really stupid and immature.  And instead of telling him so, I kept my mouth shut.  I knew that I just needed to pray about this area for him - pray that he would get a little further along in his journey and really just be better...and because he had this little wrinkle in his personality, I really wanted to be merciful towards him...I'm not immature in this particular way so I should be patient and kind to him until he catches up with me.  That's mercy, right?


That's not mercy.  That's pride and self-righteousness.  My Holy Spirit whispered these loud, blaring words into my heart.  Mercy is not born out of seeing the one, microscopic aspect of myself that I have momentarily conquered and then patronizing and patting on the head those who are still struggling there.  Mercy is born out precisely the opposite place.  It is born out of the real, deep and total knowledge of my own shortcomings - when I view myself in light of God's perfect holiness, there is no room for me to be anything but humble....when I view myself in light of God's mercy on me, how can I do anything but show real, true mercy to those around me.

The end result may be the same - I may manage to keep my mouth shut - but Jesus isn't interested just in the end result....He is interested in the heart.

The Heart. 

My Heart.  Your Heart.

And while I do think (hope.  pray) that I get half-credit for at least keeping my mouth shut, dear Jesus isn't satisfied until my motivation is right.

Does this discourage you?  It discourages me.  A lot.  But it shouldn't.  Five years ago, none of this would ever have even occur ed to me. I would have gleefully slayed my man with my mouth and never looked back.  And I would have stomped on and flamed the little bits of him that had dropped off during my attack.  It's a process.  Five years ago, I had no idea my heart wasn't right - at least now I know and can pray for forgiveness. 

And strive.  Strive.  Strive. 

Not striving for right behavior.  But striving for a heart that is like Christ's.

Monday, February 13, 2012

For Finding Peace of Mind Through Forgiveness

Our prayerbook prayer for tonight:
For Finding Peace of Mind Through Forgiveness

     To Your Father-heart I come today, Lord God, seeking peace of mind.  I am distressed and perturbed, irritated and worried.  I am dissatisfied with myself and the world around me.  My sinful heart is rebellious, my day is filled with envy, and my feelings are so easily hurt.  I know, O  Lord, that I am at fault.  I have not opened my heart to You, nor have I given service and consideration to those with whom I live in this home and to those with whom I must work throughout the day.  Everything annoys me, I must confess.  Those with whom I work get on my nerves.  O God, I admit that it is I, my sins, my lovelessness, which create these situations.  Therefore, I come to You, asking You for grace to conquer myself.  Restore to me the desire to walk in Your presence, and let me live in the sunshine of Your love.
      Forgive me all my sins, and fill my soul with peace.  Go with me, Lord, throughout the day, put my mind at ease, and speak peace to my soul through that reconciliation which is found in the Cross of Jesus, my Savior.  Amen

prayer from My Prayer Book, published by Concordia Publishing House, 1980.

Monday, February 6, 2012

that about sums it up

To maintain a joyful family requires
much from both the parents and the
children.  Each member of the family has
to become, in a special way, the servant
of the others and share their burdens. 
Each one must show concern not only for
his or her own life, but also for the lives of the other members of the family: 
their needs, their hopes,
their ideals.
Blessed John Paul II