Monthly Archives: January 2016

Vengeance is Mine {the nursery brawl}

teaI am not typically in the nursery. I am on a rotation with a couple others for teaching the first and second graders at church, so my experience with the group of newborn- three-year-olds has been limited. But I was there that day.

Whoever claimed that all people are inherently good and pure has probably never volunteered for nursery. Or had kids. The things, the atrocities that are taking place before your very eyes just doesn’t support the idea. Pushing, grabbing, screaming, glaring, hitting, whining- this is nursery. This is what pours forth from the cutest little people before they learn to behave otherwise.

My daughter was in the room, off to the side with a light pink plastic teapot. She had her little teacup in the other hand and the tea was a constant flow. Every three seconds a refill.

One of the younger lads noticed how much fun that looked. And can we blame him? I mean, imaginary tea coming out of a teapot, the opportunity to fine-tune motor skills and show the nursery that you too can pour air without spilling it. It’s all just too tempting.

He struggled to his feet and made his way over. It’s amazing the confidence that toddlers have. Really it is. How often do we as adults stay seated and watch from a distance? But nope. Not this guy. Not today. He strode across the room, back straight, comb-over on par, diaper swishing behind him.

He couldn’t voice the words, but we all knew what he was thinking. “Excuse me ma’am, but I believe you’ve enjoyed this teapot long enough. It’s probably my turn now.” He grabbed hold of the spout and gave it a good tug.

And that’s when I saw my daughter smile sweetly and explain that she would be sure to give him a turn.

Her face snarled. She had a good grip on the handle and she pulled it right back. And then? She took that dainty pink teapot and she slammed it down on his head. Bam! And again. Bam! Bam! It was an equal mix of anger and fear keeping that hand steady, like a practiced builder on a stubborn nail. Bam! Bam!

The poor boy’s face, so confident of his plans only moments before, was filled with confusion and dismay, as the teapot that he was supposed to be playing with was now clunking atop his head.

Finally I reached them and immediately whisked my toddler away for discipline. She explained, in between loud salty cries, that he grabbed. He grabbed! The injustice done to her was all she could see. The slamming of the teapot upon his head? That was perfectly excusable. That was her right.

But it wasn’t. A wrong is a wrong no matter what wrongs have been done to her. Being wronged doesn’t ever making doing wrong “a right.” That’s a truth for all of us.

As her mother, my eyes are on her. I am concerned with her character, her actions, and her discipline when she needs it, more so than other kids who have their own mothers doing the same for them.

This little teapot story came up at Bible study last night, and it had me thinking this morning, my Father is like that. He cares for me. His eyes are on me. He is concerned with refining my character and actions, and He disciplines when He needs to because He loves. The same is true for you.

He sees all the wrongs done; He won’t let them slide.

 “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay says the Lord.” Romans 12:19

 “Cast all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

He’s so capable. We reach for our plastic teapots, but they clunk shallowly. And all the while, fear and anger take over our own hearts and we hurt ourselves. He can do this all so much better than we can.

I bent down to look in her eyes and wipe her cheeks. “That was wrong for him to grab honey. But you know what you should do next time? Say ‘Mommy, can you help us please?’ And then I will come and help you guys take turns. I will help you handle it. If you choose to hit, then you will need to be disciplined because that’s wrong too.”

God says the same thing. Rather than reach for your weapon of choice, whether that be words or the cold shoulder or thoughts of bitterness towards the person who wronged you, cry out for help to a Father who cares. Trust Him to handle your wrong-doer. Surrender, release.

Hurt people hurt people. Adjective, noun, verb, noun. Hurt people who refuse God’s healing, will in turn hurt other people. And then, like my two-year-old, you quickly go from victim to perpetrator. It’s the cycle of the sin nature.

But oh the hope, we are not chained to this. We can choose life. We can choose forgiveness and release of vengeance. And in so doing, we can spare ourselves from acting out a whole list of wrongs. A wrong is a wrong always. Set the teapot down.

Let it go.

And today? Choose grace. Receive joy.

Aubrie

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The Way We Dance

My dad has incredibly long eyebrow hairs. He knows this. We girls try to help him with this regularly, but every time he pushes our clippers away and says it’s a man thing. That’s fine. I can understand his rustic man preferences; perhaps one day he will concede and then we will go to town, but that day hasn’t happened yet.

“So how is work going?” I asked. He had just sat down in a leather chair. Those big salt and pepper eyebrows caught my attention. Wisdom-framed eyes.

“Oh man… We’ve had some heavy days.” The conversation continued, surrounded by the noise of other family. A sudden burst of loud laughter, the babble of a baby in awe of a fake pine cone, the oven opening again and again and the clinking of dishes making way for more food on the table. The fire blazing ninety degrees had us all wishing that we were as wise as the menopausal women who knew to dress in layers.

“The holidays can be a really difficult time for many people. Our office has been slammed and probably will continue for the next few weeks…”

My dad works in ministry. Every day, he helps people who need a voice of truth (cue: the Bible) to come alongside and work through pain, abuse, addiction, anger, etc. Family, unfortunately, can be a key player with pain. The holidays mean seeing family. Hence, the long lines outside his door and the eyebrows that were looking a little wild and in need of some weekend relaxation.

We’ve all been there, whether it be immediate family, extended family, church family, friends or coworkers.

This is a global, universal reality: sometimes people hurt us.

And here is a second universal reality: we have all hurt other people.

It’s this lovely dance of human beings. We’re all crowded together on the ballroom floor of life and sometimes it’s in perfect harmony and the smiles come easy. And then a toe gets stepped on. Most of the time on accident. The frown takes shape (because smashed toes hurt). Someone else jostles from the other side and a group of people across the room start to brawl and soon the whole crowd can be in an uproar. But no one can get off the floor. You’re stuck. You’re stuck dancing alongside human beings who don’t dance perfectly. And they’re stuck dancing alongside your imperfect steps.

But you know what? It’s ok. It’s brilliant actually. If there is one thing that sends me running to the perfectness of God, it is the shortcomings of others and the very real imperfectness in myself. Sweet grace. And there is such hope in Him. He is our dancing partner. He is our only dancing partner. We dance alongside others. The dance of peace is always possible, because He has that peace that guards our hearts no matter what is going on around us. Freedom.

So when the toe gets stepped on by a fellow person, or the whole room is in chaos, we need only to look to our Lord and continue on dancing with Him, whatever that looks like between the two of you. And we can. We totally can. Eyes up, beloveds.

When we let our eyes drift away, quickly they will settle on other people.

“Well look at the way they get to dance.” Comparison.

“I am doing this so much better than they are.” Pride.

“I keep stumbling. I can’t do this like they can.” Self-condemnation and discouragement.

“No! That’s not the right step. This is how you must dance!” Control.

The Lord knows, I’ve attempted to control. If I were to listen to every single disagreement that has taken place in the history of my life, I’m sure there are cringe worthy moments. Times when I have used guilt or anger to drive my point home and win my victory. But it’s a loss really. Attempting to control is always a loss, even if you gain your desired outcome. Control hurts. Most often, control hurts those you care about.

We can’t do this. We can only dance our own dance. That’s it. And it’s between you and God. The best thing you can do for those around you is look up and let Him do the work. Love. Genuinely, sincerely, no strings attached sort of love. I respect you and your own dance kind of love. That is what we are responsible for. That’s all. And the more we do this in union with the Holy Spirit, the more God can work through us to reach others. We may share truth in love (something we are responsible for) but the actual outcome is completely surrendered and we must understand that in the end, nobody has to answer to you or me. We are mere people alongside other people.

So, let’s remember this. This is for all of us, and it applies to how we treat people around us and ourselves:

Love is patient.

Love is kind.

It does not envy or boast.

It is not proud or rude.

It is not self-seeking or 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. {1 Corinth. 13}

 

Love never fails.

Have you been hurt? Run to the love of your Father. It won’t fail you. He will not fail you.

Absolutely no one or nothing has the ability to force entry on your dance. We all need to know that truth. And absolutely nothing on earth can separate you from the love of God which is in Yeshua Messiah, our Lord. Forgiveness, grace, hope… joy.

Eyes up, beloveds.

dancing girl

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