Have you ever said out loud “I don’t know why I even talk!” Sometimes it’s as if what I say goes in one ear and out the other. Now I really sound like my mother. My patience has really been tried lately and you know while it’s typically my children pushing my buttons, as I look back it hasn’t always been their actions that have caused me to say this phrase. It’s in these instances that I wonder…does what I say even matter? Why do I even bother? Am I really making a positive impact…or am I just white noise?
Yesterday I decided to get a jump-start on painting for the evening after the kids went to bed and during Jackson’s nap I started edging so we could roll last night. (If I make it through this basement-finishing project I am going to throw myself a party!) It is really difficult for me to edge after little sleep, throbbing legs and stiff arthritic hands let alone little ones running around…getting into things, making messes, dropping paint brushes in FULL gallons of paint. It was as if everything I said was completely and utterly disregarded by my children. I was pushed, and pushed and pushed and finally I found myself in full-blown yelling mode…not the typical testing of patience…not the once-a-week or so running late, everyone’s lolly-gagging and “checking the mail” at 7:30 in the morning instead of getting in the car and I begin… “Get in the car, please”…”Get in the car please!” “Get in the car, please!”….”GET in the CAR, please!”…”GET IN THE CAR!” Oh, no…this was straight to yelling…loudly. It’s been a very long time since I got to that point of where it wasn’t what I said but how I said it and sure enough we all ended up in tears and I keep beating myself up for loosing my patience. My greatest fear was that someone would get hurt on the concrete floor today and that is exactly what happened. Max fell off a ladder I told him at least 10 times not to stand on and what did he do the minute I turned my back…he fell and hit the back of his head smack on the cement. After we all calmed down ice pack in hand, I sat down with them on dusty, speckled steps and told them how sorry I was for loosing my temper. I explained to Max and Ema why mommy and daddy tell them they can and cannot do certain things to protect them. “We know what’s best for you.” With a tearful “Okay, mommy!” I just felt like a complete and total failure.
This isn’t the first time I’ve felt like I’ve failed someone I love. I can remember distinctly a few years ago a dear friend came to me in serious turmoil. I tried my very best to encourage her and share my experiences to try to get her to hang on because I knew it was the right thing to do. I prayed profusely and before I knew it she had gone in the exact opposite direction of the desperate advice she had asked me so earnestly for. I was so deeply hurt for her. But that was one of the times I thought to myself “Why did she even ask me what to do if she had already made up her mind?” The truth is she was already gone and nothing I could say or do would change that. But still to this day I wonder…did I say the right things? Could I have tried harder to help? Would she be happier if I would’ve done something different? If I went just one step further would things be better today?
I remember at a retreat in high school a youth pastor was guest speaking and he said something that has stuck with me for over 17 years. He said “A husband and wife have the power to love one another like no one else…but also the power hurt each other like no one else.” I think we’ve all felt like we haven’t been “heard” in our marriages whether in off-the-cuff humor or knock-down drag-out fights (figuratively, of course)…but what about the times I’ve said awful things? Our words have such strong consequences and I have a bit of a red-headed, stubborn temper once in a while on top of the short fuse when I’m having a pain spike…bad combination…but that is NO excuse. Our words have immense power to hurt and there have been many times I have failed and hurt my husband…both in word and tone…and I am not very good at apologies. I still don’t know what I did to deserve such a wonderful man. We learned in our Intimacy in Marriage class that if a married couple doesn’t have conflict then they are not intimate. That was certainly reassuring…it’s the “conflict resolution” that brings us closer. I guess I can “make up” for my failures…but can I heal the wounds from my sharp tongue?
I KNOW that when I talk to God he hears me. That is one person I KNOW I am not white noise to. However…how often do I make him feel like what HE says goes in one ear and out the other? How many times has He told me what to do and I have completely and utterly disregarded Him? He speaks in so many ways and I, like my children, just go about my business as if I didn’t ever hear him…3, 4, 5, 10 times until BAM…I’ve hit my head on the concrete, or I’m suffering, or tempted to take the wrong path, or I’m hurting some I love…and I feel like a complete and total failure. But I know that what I can trust is that God’s love never fails. I Corinthians 13:4-8 was always a passage I thought I needed to strive for in loving others…to which I will certainly fail because I am human. But God’s love for us never does!
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
I prayed last night that God would help my husband and my children forget my failures…that they just wouldn’t remember me that way. I begged for forgiveness and when I woke up that verse is so true…I am so thankful His mercies are new every morning and His love NEVER fails no matter how miserably I do.
Someone once told me that obedience is simply trusting in God…trusting that He tells us things we can and cannot do to protect us. He knows what’s best for us. Hmmm…sounds familiar! I thank the Lord that he turned the mirror on myself yesterday so I could see how my words, and how I say them, do matter and that while I often feel like white noise…so does He…only a lot more often.