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Posts Tagged ‘offense’

accident

Following my weekly Walmart adventure, I rounded my children and prepared to depart from the magic land of the rough and tough and extra stuff.  Just as I reach for my keys, I noticed a small container of cake sprinkles the had somehow landed in my purse.  In horror, I sat for several minutes genuinely considering how they may have gotten there.

“Beautiful, angel children,” I called out over the boisterous commotion already resuming inside my still parked vehicle, “Did one of you put these in my purse?”

I showed them the sprinkles.  A simultaneous, “No!” and a couple subsequent, “I didn’ts,” were enough to convince me the fault was not theirs.  Surely they just fell in there after I bought them, right?  They fell out of the bag into my purse…maybe…  They were a dollar twenty-eight, Lori.  You have a gaggle of hyperactive gremlins who just buckled up.  Just go.  

I pulled my keys out and my most annoying conscience started screaming at me.  “You accidentally stole those.  You better go pay for them.”  “I am not going back in there.  I’m not.  NO.”  “Yes you are.  You’re going to pay for those.”  “FINE!!!  I will go dutifully back in and pay for these unfortunate specs of birthday cheer but I am not going to be happy.”  “Yes you are.  This is your fault, not the worker at the register.”

Back into the Walmart wonderland I went to pay again.  My last remaining hope was that no one else would ask if I was expecting during my stay in line.  With that, I thought for a moment about the nature of accidental wrongdoing.

I did not mean to buy five bags full of party flair and then decide I was entitled to free sprinkles for being such a great customer.   I managed to use my frazzled mom superpowers and steal them by absolute accident.

The thing about accidental injuries is that they are most annoying.  I mean who wants to finally load up and go to leave only to be sent directly back to the line of late-making and legal acquisitions?  Not this not-expecting mom of merry-making grocery trips.  Nope.  Not me.  But, this is the price one pays for finding out her fault in a matter in which she failed to realize she was the lead actor.  Still, this misadventure sent me back in more ways than one.

When I was a little girl I remember a lecture I received from my aunt.  I had been dancing around the room and she was my audience of one.  At some point during my routine, I managed to knock her glasses right off her face.  Afterward, I simply kept going, pretending not to notice what my carelessness had done to the one who I should have been most careful of catering to – my only fan, if you will.  This was the singular person I had to pay attention to and be careful of when flailing around aimlessly pretending to know how to dance.

I chose instead to offend her by my carelessness and then pretend I did not realize what I had done.  Accident or no accident, I was wrong.  I was being a total brat and she knew it.  The truth was I just wanted to see what she would do.  She was very strict with her kids and my mom was not.  I was used to getting away with my bad behavior and I was testing her.  So, she sat me down and she asked me, “Do you know what you just did?”  I looked at her blankly hoping she didn’t know what I just did.  “What?”  “You knocked my glasses off.  Did you do it on purpose? Or was it an accident?”  “Accident.”  “Well, when something is an accident, you say you’re sorry.”  “Sorry.”  She continued to lecture me for what felt like three days but what I am sure was at least a full five minutes on what a real apology looked, felt, and sounded like.  I deserved it and she was right.  When something is truly an accident – an unintentional injury or offense – there is a genuineness about the attitude and the apology to follow.

When I reentered the supermarket, my grumbling was only over my own stupidity in accidentally stealing a one dollar item.  My grumbling was not about how small the item was and how easily it fell into my purse.  It wasn’t about how distracting my kids were or how discouraged the, “Are you expecting again?” comments made this two-workout a day mom feel.  It was my careless fault and none of my excuses for it would hold up had I actually been caught stealing.  The truth is that even when fault is accidental it is our job to make it right no matter what the personal cost.

I would never slam my little girl’s fingers in the door purposefully.  I might do it accidentally, though.  If that ever happened, my grief and my love toward her in her pain at my fault would be much more obvious and extravagant than her cries of comfort-seeking.  The reason is because I love her and I would likely hurt even more than she did if I unintentionally caused such a painful injury to one of my own.  What if I did it again the next week, after she was already black and blue?  How much worse would I feel?  How much more would I seek to comfort?  Much, much more.  Love hurts for the other when it accidentally injures.  There is no room for rolling eyes and flippant “sorrys” when love seeks forgiveness.

If we injure unintentionally, we are responsible to make amends.  If its truly an accident, we say we’re sorry in an appropriate way with an affectionate attitude for wrong done.  If we don’t, that accident is rightly reclassified as purposeful.  Ask the police.  Ask my aunt.  Ask my kids.  The proof is often found in the apology.

My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. ~1 Corinthians 4:4

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unhappy-valentine-s-day-t-shirts

We’re having a party!  You’re invited!  Come!  It’s all about love.  Bring your empty box!  Decorate it pretty so we can share love notes with you!

Valentine’s Day never seemed so exciting.  We shopped and we crafted.  We wrote out love notes and we waited in happy expectation.  But somehow, somewhere between Mommy’s phone ringing, baby’s fall breaking, and passing out our love notes to one another, something went terribly wrong.

My 3 older kids were alone in the party room.  I was standing just outside talking about my own desperate need for prayer.  Something happened that I did not witness personally.

Enter: Irate mom.  Irate mom interrupted my tears brimming, baby rocking, broken heart on my sleeve conversation by yelling at me about how terrible my children are and how her precious snowflake was crying because of my monsters.

So I did what any reasonable person would do.  I apologized.  I asked what had happened.  I made them apologize.  I explained to both mom and daughter that it seems my girls may have just wanted to be her friend and didn’t know how to introduce themselves appropriately. My girls sat crying for a long time while their accuser showed no evidence of any personal pain.

When we came home we talked about the love gone wrong party.  I do not presume to know exactly what actually happened.  What I do know very well is my own children.  I know exactly who they are and who they are not.  They sin just like me.  They hurt just like me.  They love just like me.  And they tell me the truth when it really matters.

So what happens when a bully calls you a bully and cries fake tears to get you in trouble?  What happens when that bully has an authority (bully mom) who does the same?  When bully mom singles you out and yells in your pint size face in full view of all your friends?  When bully mom goes on a tirade among all the other authorities yelling about how despicable you and best friend (sister) really are?  What happens then?

Well.  You stand by your apology.  Perhaps you did cause some small injury unintentionally.  Perhaps you did.  And then you sit back and you realize that sincere apologies do not matter to bullies.  You realize that forgiveness will never be extended no matter what you say or do because the animosity is not coming from a place of honest offense.  It is coming from a place of hatred and jealousy; malice and deceit; pride and envy.

 Then you cry.  You sit at the party you so looked forward to and you cry about how you’ve been treated.  You take quite some time to listen to the one who loves you most when she says it is going to be OK because her love never depended on your behavior.  You finally get the courage to wipe your tears and go back to playing with the other kids but when the day is done you go home and you appeal to the one who loves you again.  You realize that there is no place for the likes of you at the next love party because you have learned that there is no love at those kind of parties after all.  You wait, hoping love comes back and loves you, apologizes to you, sits next to you, embraces you, and rights the wrongs it did, or, at the very least, shows you how you have wronged it.

You realize that the truth is, love does.  Love will.  Love reconciles.  Love forgives.  Love lives on after our preferences, our pettiness, and all our imperfections.  Love does and will do all of those things and so, so much more if it is, indeed, love after all.  If not, well, then I need to be more wise and discerning the next time I’m invited to a party labeled “love” to that fact that it may have nothing whatsoever to do with what I know love actually is all about.  I have no interest in fake love parties.  Those aren’t for me and they certainly aren’t for my children.

Love is not something we can celebrate if we are looking for a self-centered pity party over our every whim and want.  Love is messy, painful, sacrificial, and other-serving.  You cannot accuse, fail to forgive, hold in contempt, and wait with binoculars and your detective hat for the next offense just hold onto the upper hand; the control; the selfish benefits of being the boss without the selfless service of being the leader.

Everyone likes to be invited.  Everyone wants to celebrate love because love is the greatest of all things we have been given on the entire earth.  But we cannot invite others to love parties that do not both display and convey true love accurately and appropriately.  If we do, we should not wonder why they won’t ever come back once they figure out how this thing works.  You can’t bait and switch and expect the bait to keep fooling the fish.  Our Lord only gave us two commands.  Two.

1. Love ME (God)

2.Love each other

If we cannot do that, we have nothing to celebrate, nothing to share, and nothing worth inviting anyone to come and be a part of.

And you know, God has his ways.  He always shows up just when we need Him most.  It just so happened that we were invited to anther love party.  It was last minute and unexpected.  It was hosted by one who had nothing prepared save her heart.  She wanted to love.  She sought to serve.  She gave the little she had to me and my daughters freely without even knowing how hurt we’d been by the last party labeled “love.”  What grace He gives in our time of need.  What a good, good God we serve.

With that, I leave you the words of a wild thing and a king:

” Judith: Psst. Psst. (signals for Max to come over)  What were you doing with Carol just now?

Max: Just talking.

Judith: Oh, a secret, huh?  Let me ask you something.  How does it work around here?  Are we all the same or are some of us better than others or – ?  You like to play favorites, huh, king?

Max: No, I like all you guys equally.

Judith: Don’t give me that.  I can see how it is.  The king has favorites.  That’s really cute.  Do you have a favorite color?  Hey, can I be your favorite color? (laughs)

Max: (imitates her laugh)

Judith: (does it back)

Max: (does it again, with more effort)

Judith: Ahahahaha

Max: Har har har!

Judith: Ahahahahahaha

Max: HAR HAR HAR

Judith: You know what? You can’t do that back to me.  If we’re upset, your job is not to get upset back at us.  Our job is to be upset.  If I get mad and want eat you, then you have to say, “Oh, okay, you can eat me.  I love you.  Whatever makes you happy, Judith.”  That’s what you’re supposed to do!”

~Where the Wild Things Are, 2009, Jonze and Dave Eggers

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milk

Paul has just exhorted the Philippian church to put away their differences.  He urged unity, joy in every circumstance, and anxiety in none.  He instructed them to look at the good and imitate his example.  Now, he goes on to conclude his letter with a call to contentment and thanksgiving.

Notice how Paul begins his instruction on contentment:

I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. ~Philippians 4:10

Here is a man who has been faithfully preaching and teaching the gospel for the sake of others’ souls and Christ’s call.  Each place to which he is called proves his worldly enemies increasingly more hostile.  As he sits in prison again, falsely accused and wrongfully punished, he gives thanks to a church who had, for a time, all but forgotten him.  Still, he takes no offense, or, most likely, completely overlooks their negligence and offense and instead praises them with his gratitude for what they had now given to him.  He even seems to make an excuse for their neglect recognizing that they had had “no opportunity.”

Really?  A whole church full of people to whom he had brought the gospel simply had “no opportunity” to care for him as he sit in prison?  Perhaps.  More likely, as Mr. Henry and I agree, Paul is excusing their neglect towards himself because of his own godliness.  He is refusing to take offense, though plenty enough reason for it has been given by those who should have previously loved him well.

Nevertheless, Paul rejoices.  He holds no grudge.  He dismisses every reason he has for bitterness and discontentment because he has only one goal in mind: the gospel.  Paul is not interested in fighting for rightful respect or well-deserved apologies for himself from those who have already “come around.”  The reason?  He loves them deeply.  Love covers a multitude of sin.

Let me just say that again so I don’t miss remembering it when taking offense when willful neglect in the church lands on my doorstep.

Love covers a multitude of sin.

I must choose love.  To do so, I must overlook offense.  I must assume the best, even when actions seem to speak the worst.  This is the beginning of contentment.  Dwelling on ill-treatment from brothers and sisters will steal our joy and divide our church faster than worldly persecutors ever could.  Paul knows it.  Therefore, he disregards their hurtful neglect, chalks it up to a “lack of opportunity” and rejoices that they’ve shown up at all.  Better late than never, right?

If anyone had need in the church at this point, it was Paul.  He likely needed financial support, food, material things, etc.  It’s probable that he was indigent because of his confinement.  Most of all, though, I believe he must have needed encouragement.  Still, Paul is content.  He says he has learned the secret of contentment.

 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. ~Philippians 4:13

Christ is the secret.  Christ is the source.  Christ is all and that makes him all we need.

So then, the question becomes, “Do we need?” or are we already full?

Paul needed.  But he did not beg.  He did not complain.  He did not take offense at the offensive.  He encouraged giving solely for the sake of the givers’ growth – not self indulgence or personal gains.

He ends his letter with grace.  Paul treats his imperfect church with remarkable grace.

The moral of this amazing prison-written letter to us?  Lead by example.  The only way we can ever hope to be joyful in affliction, stop complaining and taking offense, start dwelling on the good and rejoicing even when Christians disappoint and be genuinely content is to, at all costs, find the Source; draw from the Source.

 Christ alone is our Source.  Be thankful and rejoice because you know him.  Some do not have such a privilege.

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Image

I’ve had exactly one lesson.  Aside from a couple years of kickboxing, shadowboxing, and beating my belligerence out on the heavy bag, I do not know the first thing about boxing.  I’ve been in four street fights – only two of which I was the aggressor.  This is not the same.  I am hardly qualified to teach anyone anything about boxing.  Nevertheless, here is what I learned on day one.

My stance is wrong.  My angle of impact is wrong.  My position is wrong.  I do not protect myself properly.  My balance is off, and, if I enter a fight uncorrected, it will hurt.  A lot.  Truth be told, it will hurt anyway.  Like teach told me – boxing hurts.  

You know what he didn’t tell me though?  He didn’t say, “Your stance is wrong.”  He said, “Stand like this.  Good!”  He didn’t say, “Your angle is wrong.”  He said, “Press in and hold your punch.  Can you feel how your angle corrected?”  He didn’t say, “Your position is wrong.”  He said, “Turn your body away from me…like this.  Don’t leave yourself wide open like that.  Better!”  He didn’t say, “You’re gonna know it if you keep trying to protect yourself like that.”  He said, “Hold your protecting fist flush against your face.  It will hurt less if there is contact.”  He did not laugh when my wretched excuse for balance left me lying on the floor.   He gently reminded me how important balance is. He did not allow me to continue throwing the wrong kind of punches when he saw that I was bleeding. He wiped my blood up off the floor and showed me something else. 

I cannot imagine how utterly ridiculous I looked to this guy (and my husband who sat watching the whole sitcom.)  But I do believe I learned more about life – particularly the Christian life – than I have in a long time.

Teach said two things that I doubt I will find myself soon forgetting.  He said, “Boxing is a game of windows.  You have a split second to make your move and then the window closes.”  He also said, “Boxing is war.  It may not seem like it to those who think it is just a sport, but when you are in that ring, you feel it.  It is war.”

Life is a game of windows.  We have momentary, fleeting opportunities to get this thing right.  The Christian life is war.  Those who do not see it as such are not engaged.  And we who are engaged have a monumental choice when it comes to teaching the privates entering boot camp how to fight fair.  Boxing is offensive and defensive at the same time.  So is the Christian life.  We can discourage and destroy others with heavy-handed defense or we can train and encourage them so patiently and respectfully that it makes even our offensive moves kind.  

That’s the kind of teacher I want to be.  That’s the kind of trainer I want to become.  I imagine I will have a lot more blood on my face and hands even if I do it the right way.  I might even look like a big disgrace at times.  But the war is worthy of my all.  I refuse to stop fighting.  I just have to better learn how.  Quitting is not an option in war time.  I will persevere.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my eye upon you. ~Psalm 32:8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcCaTXcwh9w

 

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