It had started so well - his first day back at work after paternity leave. We had managed to get all 3 up, downstairs, eating breakfast by the time we had planned, just as we had been practising in the last week or so. Noone had been grumpy getting up and they were all chatting nicely round the table. He had left on time with clean, ironed trousers, a shirt and the tie our eldest had bought him for Christmas. She had finished her breakfast without delay, gone upstairs and dressed herself happily whilst I cleared up. It was all going swimmingly.
Why do I find it so hard not to lose my temper? Why do we all find it so hard to only speak kind words? Why are we so quick to descend into shouting, slamming doors, harsh words and feelings hurt? It was a matter of seconds that it took to escalate...
"Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks." That's what Jesus said.
...Somewhere between me trying to brush her hair and the knots pulling, coupled with the scream of the youngest who did not want to be wearing her winter coat because it restricts her movement - somewhere in those few seconds our hearts began to spill over.
It wasn't nice.
Again I am confronted with my utter need for help. I need saving from myself, let alone anything else. I am just like the prophet when he said even his best attempts at being good were like filthy rags. And so I yield to this truth. After all, it's nothing I don't know already - the Bible speaks quite clearly about the state of all our hearts.
I don't need new year's resolutions - I need rebirth, to be made new from the inside out - every day.
I don't need self help regimes, I need a Saviour - someone to rescue me from the old habits and ways of living that are destructive to others and myself, not to mention the havoc they wreak on the image of Him who made me.
I yield to the truth that I need the one who is called The Truth. The one whose words were never harsh, whose heart overflowed with perfect unadulterated goodness every time he spoke. The one who went "like a lamb to the slaughter and did not open his mouth" - all so that we could be set free from ourselves and the wrong we do and say every day. Only by following and waiting on Him each day and with the change brought about by His indwelling Spirit will I, we, find the strength, help and forgiveness we need to live in peace in this family, in this world.
An ancient prayer for the fourth Sunday after the Epiphany (church calendar), paraphrased:
"God, you know us to be set in the midst of so many great dangers, which, because of our weakness we cannot overcome - grant us health in body and soul so that the difficulties we suffer as a result of evil and sin in our world and in us, we will, with your help, overcome in Jesus."
"Facing the facts - our "beset"-ness, then asking for help - "grant us", produce the first fruits of overcoming. The root is aid requested; the fruit, success in reaching the port."
(From a meditation on the ancient prayer in this book.)
2011 - A Year of Yielding.