Miscommunication happened, again. As a result, I was ready to fly off the handle this time. I had spent copious amounts of time organizing, planning and overly communicating. Despite my preparations, no one seemed to understand what was going on.
Perhaps it was the fact we were on day 7 of being stuck at home. My nerves may have been overly shot leaving little room to poke and prod before they became angry, quivering with sarcasm and frustration.
I started to respond over text in haughty pride that I had clearly stated this plan multiple times. My response lingered in draft-style as I read it. And re-read it. My finger hovered over the send button.
Wait. Don’t respond yet. There was the familiar voice of the Spirit.
The invitation to see new
It was early. 6 am. So I set my phone aside (which really is it’s rightful place first thing in the morning) and walked out to the kitchen bar to sit in the quiet. I love this time. It’s a regular rhythm in my mornings where the noise of the world dims for a bit, and I listen through reading God’s Word, journaling, and just being.
I started reading 1 Corinthians a few months ago. When I finished, I decided to move right into the next book. I look forward to what I’ll discover each morning, praying for open eyes and ears. This particular morning, with that text response sitting in drafts, I opened to the next chapter. James 3. I read the chapter title and rolled my eyes in loving respect (I promise!) sprinkled with a good amount of humor, and chuckled. Controlling the Tongue.
“Okay,” I whispered aloud. “You obviously have something for me to learn here.” To be honest, if there was a wrong and a right side to my earlier fiasco, I was the one who was right. My pride wanted the other party to feel the pain of their ignorance so they would learn from it. And yet the Spirit whispered again, You don’t know why they responded that way. There could be reasons beyond your understanding.
Convicted, I read verse by verse, sometimes pausing to underline or write my thoughts in the margins. And then this verse struck me.
“If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.”James 3:13
A wise perspective shift
Humility, I definitely needed. But wisdom? I kinda figured I had wisdom. I have asked God for His wisdom all my life. Plus, I generally make decisions I would classify as wise.
Poke. Prod. There is something more here.
“For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.”James 3:15-16
The words soaked in. “Okay, God–so my underlining desire here is to prove that I’m right. I have no consideration for the other’s feelings. Therefore, the driving force behind my response is selfishness. What is your wisdom then?” My response sitting in drafts was a tiny spark that could set a forest fire.
Here is where God re-positioned my perspective. Maybe in this crazy time of close quarters with your loved ones, you need this re-positioned perspective too? With the world unpredictable and lacking stability, we lash out unfairly at those we love and are closest to. We assume our way is the best way and stomp over anyone else who dare trudge upon a different path. We notice all the things that aren’t falling under our control and grab tighter. If we can’t control the really big things, we overcompensate to ensure these little things will be corralled and contained with our order. At the bottom of these motivations lay selfishness, a form of self-preservation that comes from fear.
What is Your wisdom then?
I arrived at James 3:17-18 where God was about to answer my question.
“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.”James 3:17-18
My patient, wise God waited for the ah-ha moment to come over me. And, indeed it did. Wisdom from above is:
Gentle at all times
Willing to yield to others
Full of mercy
Does good deeds
Shows no favoritism
Is always sincere
I wrote each of these down in my journal and then added: “This becomes a filter we can use to ensure our actions and responses are in line with God’s wisdom.”
A reason to respond differently
After reading, I took another look at my text response. Delete, delete, delete, delete. It didn’t matter if I was right. It also didn’t matter that this would take me a little extra time to get everyone back on track. They were worth the extra effort. When I am unblinded by my selfishness, I am able to see the other’s value. When my selfishness is set aside, I can filter my motivations through the value of the other person, not my need to control.
But, breathing in, I could still sense intolerance wanting to rise up in me. “God, this is such an automatic response for me! I need your wisdom to leak through my soul so I can give Love.”
A few days later, I found the irritation rising again. My son was furious he couldn’t go see his Grandpa and, therefore, protested with fits and screams. My husband and I were navigating being in each other’s space 24/7 with very different ways of moving through our routines (or lack of routines). While we have done quite well the majority of the time, we’ve had moments we’ve played a round of bumper cars as we swoop into each other’s lanes.
The quick reaction to retort and put everyone in their place, to grasp for control and make everyone behave the way I need them to, rises like a tiny spark, ready again to set a forest ablaze. But God’s Spirit reminds me, it is not my job to self-preserve. It is my job to live acknowledging His victory, His hope, His security. My selfishness melts away, and left in it’s place is true wisdom to navigate these uncertain times.
A helpful reminder
I realize, this will be a continual learning curve for me, so I created a little reminder to hang up in my home, and thought maybe you would want it too. You can download it here.
Consider utilizing these days together to have a discussion as a family about what God’s wisdom looks like in an unprecedented time like this. How does His wisdom pour out of our actions and words as a result? Our time in close quarters has potential to reap a harvest of good, soul-filling moments, as mirrors are held up to our souls daily by our families and roommates. May God’s wisdom be what reflects back.
Thanks for listening,
PS- Don’t want you to miss this…
Hey readers! If you are looking for a good Bible study, head over to The Daily Grace Co! They are having a $5 and $10 sale on their studies right now! You’ll find studies and tools for your kids, him and her bundles you can do together with your spouse, and TONS of resources that will meet you right in the middle of these unprecedented times. It’s the perfect time to stock up!
Lastly, once a month I send out a newsletter straight to your email. It’s holds some honest musings, soul reflections and encouragement as we hold onto joy. I also share some of my favorite things I’ve been listening to, reading, or ministries that are doing amazing things. To top it off, I always include a family-favorite, easy recipe–because we are in this together, friend, and recipe-swapping is a form of love. Readers say it’s like sitting down to coffee with a friend. I’d love to connect with you over coffee in real life, but this is my next best option. Come join me!