Sunday, January 12, 2014

Battling Temptation

I didn't wake up this morning knowing I would have a huge emotional hill to climb.

It started before my feet even hit the floor. Hubby did not wake up when he said he would, and then Bella demanded that I help her with hot chocolate NOW!
Bump #1--tempted to be irritable and lash out in anger for being disregarded and disrespected. "Do not return evil for evil," is what I try to apply. feebly.

Judah then woke up stuffy and begged not to be taken to church.
I agreed to stay home with him from church after he did not eat breakfast nor move from the couch with his blanket.

I thought it was just morning congestion that he would shake off by lunch time, in time for us to enjoy our monthly "family dinner" with LA's side of the family.  His willingness to get himself dressed was an indicator to me that he was well enough and motivated to see his family.

I hopped in the car with Skillet Chocolate cake and Magic cake and only then remembered that I had also offered to bring a salad.  Bump #2--tempted to believe my husband is frustrated by my forgetfulness and now, my tardiness too, because I have to run back inside to grab the salad ingredients.

We arrived at my brother/sister-in-law's, and I fought the temptation to feel like I was making myself a burden by needing bowls and silverware from my SIL to put together the salad and guacamole and that I was holding up lunch for everyone while I prepared the food.

After I put together a simple salad and guacamole, it was time to eat. Second in line was one of my sons, who will remain nameless.  Trying to serve himself lunch on real dishes was just more than he could manage, and he dropped the plate. CRASH went the plate to the floor. It fell along with my heart.
Bump#3--tempted to believe the self loathing, self destructive thoughts that I am a horrible mother who does not train her children well--that I should have anticipated that slip and carried the plate for my child.
And, I was at the same time fighting the temptation for my new-ish SIL to like us, to be fond of my kids and to not feel like she has to hold her breath every time we're near for fear of what we might break.

At this point, temptation and emotions got the best of me, and I had to excuse myself to go cry it out for a minute or two in the bathroom, pray and ask God for strength to be others' focused, to walk in grace, to move on.
**I am a 5 year old trapped in a 37 year old's body. It's true.

By God's kindness, I was able to recover and enjoy lunch with everyone, to move on conversationally, not be overly introspective and defeated.

Judah ate a small lunch but spent most of the time sitting on the couch. By the end of the afternoon, when he hadn't eaten dessert and was laying on the couch with his blanket over him, I started to feel regretful about my decision to come with him. Bump #4--tempted to beat myself up yet again for my poor judgment in bringing Judah to my bro/sis-in-law's house. Not only is my SIL pregnant for the first time, but she is also traveling out of state this week.

On our way home, Judah slunk down on the side of the door with his blanket and fell asleep. Once home, I took his temperature and saw that he had developed a fever over the afternoon. Bump #5 and really more of a hill than a bump--tempted to worry about Judah spreading infection to a young man who is staying with us right now to recover from his third kidney transplant. He is immunosuppressed, so catching a virus poses a serious threat to his recovery.

I texted the young man's mom, who is also staying with us, to let her know what was going on with Judah and that we had quarantined Judah to his room.  Her response was strikingly different from mine: "Thanks for letting me know. We will pray and trust the Lord."

I realized then that what was going on in my heart most of the day was not a matter of lack of trust in God for my son's health or for the health of others, though that was a part of it. What was going on in my heart is a serious craving for the approval of others or a fear of their disapproval, a longing to be honored and thought of, to be preferred and catered to as in the case with my husband and daughter first thing this morning.

I KNOW this can be a struggle for me. I KNOW it's wrong to allow these cravings to control me. I KNOW the truths to apply: I am fully accepted in Christ. I am His chosen, precious daughter, for whom He gave up His life. He sings over me with rejoicing.  Why do I yet crave for the approval of others to the point of becoming self centered, withdrawn, introspective, and defeated relationally?  I hate it. I really, really do. I fight it. Some days, like today, it is just one small skirmish after another, and the best I can do is to KEEP. GETTING. UP.

This is not all of who I am; this is a just one part of me.  Some seasons the temptation barely presents itself if at all. Sometimes, like the previous several months, I fight hard, long and much too frequently for comfort the temptations to be self focused, to give in to self hating thoughts, to not keep myself rooted and secure in the love my God has for me.  The wrestling that has taken place in my mind and heart has been distracting at least, obsessive at worst.

I know this is not a good path to be on. I know I must fight to take these thoughts captive, to not allow the enemy to take me out of the game by becoming so introspective, self protecting and defeated that I stop taking steps forward, steps TOWARD people and ministry rather than away.

When I am tempted in these ways, everything in me wants to crawl in a hole and disappear. I can become convinced that everyone would be better off if I just did not exist. IT is not easy to admit this so publicly. Many of my closest friends know this about me, but I wanted to be brave and write it here on the blog, where anyone can read it. It is scary and uncomfortable, and I will likely face regret at some point.

But, I have several motivations for doing so.
1. I want to grow. I want the enemy and my flesh to lose their hold on me in this particular area. I want to walk FREE, truly free to admit my failures and weaknesses and sins, as immature as they may be, because Jesus paid the greatest price for me to be able to do so. My heart longs to honor His sacrifice and to declare, "World, Jesus' blood covers ALL!  Jesus is a Redeemer and a Conqueror and a Lover to the unlovely, to the emotionally immature, to the self-centered idolater like me. He wants to redeem your life, conquer your sin, and love YOU, too"

2. I need prayer and am unashamed to solicit boldly and broadly for it. Thanks in advance.

3. I know as much as I want to be heard and understood, there are countless others like me who also want to be heard and understood, who battle this same kind of temptation and may think they are alone. But, I know that what I face, even at 37 years old, is common to man.  And, so I hope that in me putting myself "out there", someone else may find hope and courage in knowing they are NOT alone.

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