Friday, April 1, 2016

the prayer that ruined me

Last week I prayed a very special prayer that might have ruined my life and redeemed it at the same time.

(This is not the first time I have prayed prayers that have ruined me. I truly meant it when I sang "Oceans" at church and even repeated those words to God when I was alone with him, and he definitely took me where my faith was without borders. He continues to take me there, and it is good because He is good.)

My prayer last week went like this:

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!


You might recognize those words. They're the words of David, written in Psalm 139:23-24, in response to his realization that God knew him--his good and bad--inside and out. 

The fact that God knows me inside and out is often frightening enough for me in and of itself, because I am generally aware of my faults. But David embraced it, asking God to search him, know him, test him and lead him. 

For me, this was essentially a prayer for God to throw down on my heart, to take a deep look inside, test me, see my sin and lead me out of it. I have prayed the words before, but God probably knew I wasn't ready for Him to completely "try me" and "see if there be any grievous way in me." Because BOY, was there a grievous way in me!

This time, I guess I was ready for the (nearly) full effect of his testing. Last week was horrendous. I may be overstating it a bit, but we had some rough moments, and those rough moments in combination with my cold symptoms and lack of sleep led me to the realization that without allowing the Spirit to control my life I am absolutely out of control.

Kids were picking on one another. So I picked on them.

Dishonor was a problem. The kids dishonored eachother. They dishonored me. So I dishonored them.

I was consumed with worry about things. Lots of things. 

We had approximately 35 spills at the table. Per day. I, myself, had approximately 34 outbursts of anger regarding literal spilled milk and the resulting soggy papers. ( I did not have 34 outbursts because the first spill was gimme.) Clearly, grace was absent from our home.

I had to physically hold Clementine down for about 30 minutes for an ultrasound on her kidneys to investigate the proclamations on her medical reports from DRC. An ultrasound is similar to having lotion rubbed on you. It is SO not a big deal. But she made it a spectacle. That said, she probably does have very bad memories of doctor's visits that did not end well for her, evidenced in part by a large scar on her neck where they drained some sort of swelling, probably by using a knife that was left lying around somewhere in the hospital. Nonetheless, all the unnecessary wailing and writhing was exhausting. I chose to waiver somewhere between silently laughing the craziness of it and having compassion in the moment, but by Minute 29 my jaw was beginning to clench involuntarily. Her ultrasound came back normal, as did her second round of bloodwork.)

Clementine was easily annoyed and angered by everyone, and I spent much of the week looking into her mad face and defiant eyes and trying to figure out the best plan of action that would indicate love and discipline at the same time. 

We had to run several errands on Thursday and the "get out of the car," "get in the car," "put on your seatbelt," "stay close in the parking lot," "no, we can't get that" conversations we were having over and over again were wearing on my last nerve. 

And every kid cried--or at least whined annoyingly--about the fact that I wasn't carrying him or her through the stores. I need to have a more consistent presence in the gym for that sort of stamina. 

Then we had to go back into a store for a coat that was left behind. (Eyes rolling...)

By Thursday afternoon, I had texted Brad to tell him I needed help with the kids at the dinner we were both headed to because I was five kinds of mad and could not deal with it anymore. My edges were raw and easily irritated. Life was not fun. 

By the time it was time to drive to said dinner, I had reevaluated my heart and repented because my attitude absolutely stunk. So many things went right in those days, but the small things led me to an absolute explosion of anger and frustration. God was showing me the evil in my heart, alright. 

I remembered that on Wednesday night Brecken had been extremely upset (not a shock...screaming is his MO at bedtime these days...eyes rolling again), and I very faintly heard Brody whisper to him from their bedroom, "Brecken, I prayed for you." (All the warm fuzzies in my heart!!!)

And Clementine had loved her Easter dress and new pink Converse kicks. (I have waited so long to give my daughter some of those, because Converse shoes look like clown shoes on me.)

And both boys had grabbed her hands to hold them when she was getting her hair brushed so she wouldn't be sad. 

And Brody thanked God that Clementine was here. 

And Clementine had snuggled me so much!

And Oaklee had given me lots of kisses (open mouth slobbers on my face, but whatev). 

But all of that and the many other amazing moments of last week fell through the cracks as my selfishness stifled the joy. I can't explain it, except to say that I asked for this. God showed me virtually every terrible symptom of my fleshly desires.  

This week I started anew with morning prayers that went something like this: 

"Lord, you revealed a lot of junk last week. OUCH. You've proven I can't deal with all of this craziness alone. Please lead me now, and rule in my heart."

And that has been the difference. We have still had some issues. We have still struggled some. But we have had been JOY, too.