This week's post brought to you by my wonderful husband, who is perceptive enough to notice my sin, yet kind enough to remind me of the hope that I have for change.
Anyone who has known me for more than a year or two knows that I have a problem with bitterness . . . I accumulate it like it's going out of style. When I was younger and single, this was mildly annoying, causing fractured friendships and fun nicknames (in high school, a friend of mine and I were referred to as "bitter, evil women"). Married with a child, though, it's a real problem. If I can't forgive my husband when he sins against me (or when I think he's sinning against me), then I will have, at best, an angry, loveless marriage.
Now, anger (and bitterness, etc.) is one of those sins that I had pretty much given up hope on. I had been praying and trying for years, but defeating this particular sin has always felt like running on a treadmill: working up a sweat with no forward momentum. I was convinced that God had abandoned me on this, which, of course, made me pretty bitter against Him. I had resigned myself to stifling my tongue as best I could, substituting "sugar honey iced tea" (thank you, Madagascar) for the string of expletives that runs through my head when something goes wrong, using a constant state of busyness to keep myself from thinking of the ways others have wronged me.
But that's not enough anymore, because when you live with someone (and hope to do so for many more years), you either forgive them, for real, from way down deep inside, or you push them away. Those are the only choices. Until recently, guess which one I opted for? Yep. Pushing him away. Safer? Totally. Unfulfilling and sinful? You bet. Then, in a 5am argument of immense proportions, he called me on it. And I admitted to feeling completely helpless to defeat this sin. He did his best to remind me where my help comes from, and I did my best to believe him. And then, this morning, I read this:
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'"
Jesus has the power to change the inside of my heart, so that what comes out of it will be sweet, God-glorifying "living water". His expectation for me is not just that I learn to restrain my temper, but that all my self-righteous reasons for being angry in the first place would disappear in the deluge of his mercy. With apologies to our current President, this is change I can believe in. Yes, I will still have to work. Just because His mercies are new every morning doesn't mean I don't have a responsibility for my actions. I still have to let Him transform my heart; I have to give up my right to be offended, and I have to do this every day. It will probably still feel like running on a treadmill at times. But it's not. I've officially hopped onto the pavement. Run with me?