Fast forward a few months. It was a Wednesday night at our church - there were only a few faithful attendees present, and our pastor began his sermon, as usual. But then he said, "Christ said, "you have heard that it has been said 'do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone that looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:27-29 NIV)." Then our pastor stated this, "if you don't think this applies to you, then just go ahead and rip that page out of your bible." And he ripped the page out of his bible, threw it on the floor, and continued. "The Bible says 'love your neighbor as yourself Mark 12:31. If you feel like you are better than other people, then this doesn't apply to you, so just rip it out of there. Obviously, Jesus didn't die for you." And he continued. One by one, the pages of fundamental Christian beliefs were ripped out of the Bible. Love the Lord your God with all your heart. Ripped out. Keep your oathes. Gone. Honor your parents. Respect your elders. Do not murder. Be slow to speak and quick to listen. Do not steal. Do not worry. Take care of orphans and widows. Do not judge... The pages that he tore out of his bible flew around him, and landed gently on the floor. And they began to pile up. As a brand new Christian, and being only 12 years old, I sat in wide-eyed shock for the next 30-45 minutes. And I didn't breathe.
Fast forward 21 years. I still vividly remember this sermon. It is one that will remain with me for the rest of my time on this earth. The message is so profound, even now. When I was 12, I could not believe that MY PASTOR was treating the BIBLE in such a disrespectful way. As Christians, we consider this book as something to be revered and respected. But we miss the mark. I miss the mark. It is not the book that holds the power and sanctity, it is the message and teachings within that we should take to heart and live by. And believe me, I am preaching to the choir. You know all those fruits? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? I struggle with every. Single. One. But lately, it is love that I am struggling to embrace. You might as well rip the "love your enemies" clean out of my Bible because it is HARD!! And I don't WANT to love my enemies! I want to Hate them! There is really only less than a handful that fall into this category. What frustrates me about one person in particular, though, is that no matter how nice or considerate I try to be, this person returns it with spite. And I can't change said person's attitude. I struggle with anger, hate, and too often self-control. I mean I really let my tongue loose.
The problem is not that this person exists- the REAL problem is that I refuse to embrace Christ's teachings and demonstrate patience, and understanding, and as much as I want to refuse it - love. Unfortunately, admitting my struggles doesn't make them any easier - they are still struggles, and even when I try to give up my hatred and anger, it seeps back in. I give them to God, and then I take it all back the next day. Day after day after day. I am so grateful that God does not reciprocate my own struggles.
As much as I dislike admitting just one of my MANY imperfections (a.k.a. sins), I know that I am not alone. We ALL have imperfections that we struggle with, whether they are obvious or covert. It's okay to be imperfect. But if we are truly seeking a heart like Jesus', we can't tear out the pages of our own Bible that we don't want to acknowledge while pointing a condemning finger at others, because then wouldn't we be saying "I am better than you," or "you are so sinful you don't deserve for Jesus to have died for you"? Both concepts are innately wrong. No one is holier than any other person. We have to recognize our own faults, allow God to deal with our own hearts, and look for ways to lift others up when they are overcome with struggles. Isn't life messy?
Speaking of a messy life, we have gone through some pretty huge adjustments this past month that deserves some mention. As you are all aware, Dave lost his job mid-September. We knew that God had other plans for our family, but finding that plan has been kind of messy and a big struggle. Losing a consistent income has hit us hard for the past couple of weeks, but God has provided me with a full-time job in the Dallas school district. And ya'll, over the past few years, I have forgotten how much I love my career. God knew what He was doing when He designed this crazy plan, and Dave and I are both at peace with the outcome. Dave is getting to learn how to manage the intricacies of our household (which is an interesting process to be a part of), and I am learning to let go of controlling the intricacies of the household. I'm not sure who has the harder job! Lol
Ella Rae Harper is growing by the day, and is expected to arrive in early January, the twins are recovering from a minor cold and tracheal infection (and by minor, I mean that Owen had to spend a few days in the hospital, meanwhile Emmett stayed at home on antibiotics!). Ethan and Liam are as ornery as ever, and life goes on.
3 good things:
1.) my mom is turning another year wiser tomorrow!! Happy birthday, mom!
2.) God has provided for our family, again, in our greatest time of need.
3.) coming home after work to a cacauphony of boys who are all loudly glad to see me.
4.) (bonus) being asked to write as a guest blogger. It's such an honor! More details to come soon.