Monday, February 20, 2012

grace for the delusional

I always have something to prove. It is a disease. A bad habit. I want people to think certain things about me, as though I can control their thoughts. It is a wearisome thing.

Even now, as I am typing, my words and intentions are infected by a need to prove something to you, dear reader. The picture you see at the top? That is what I want you to think of our family. It's not how we behave, not always. But it is what I want you to believe about us.

Last week, I was all stressed out. Some friends and their children were coming for dinner. There was so much to do, but the boys simply would not take their afternoon nap. For four hours, four hours, they were crying and laughing and bouncing in their cribs. But not sleeping. They can be horrid and fussy without their naps. And certainly, we would not want the guests to think I am a horrid mother.

In naps I trust.

Even to my husband, who entrusted himself to me, I still manage to find something I need to prove. Hans took me aside and reminded me that everything need not be perfect. I know, said I, but I want everything to be perfect. And perfection meant that everything must follow my wishes. Doesn't he know that people's eternal happiness depended on this dinner?

I was delusional, of course. And I didn't really think these things were true, but I behaved as though they were.

At 4:30 p.m., a dear friend, appeared at my door, bearing words of comfort and a large bowl of dark chocolate mousse. She knew that the boys were sick and I had company that night, so she thought she would help by making dessert.

What grace! This friend grew up in Germany and lived in France for a time. And, let me tell you, she had a way with chocolate mousse. Not only did the words roll off her tongue in the most sublime way, spoonful after spoonful of Mousse au Chocolat sang, twirled, and exploded like fireworks in our mouths.

The family arrived around 5:30 p.m. As it turned out, what was most wonderful, most memorable, about that evening had little to do my day's labor. I was conversing mostly with the wife, and Hans with the husband. At one point of our conversation, I realized that God had been preparing me for this conversation with this friend not in one afternoon, but over the span of years.

The circumstances of our lives flickered before my mind's eyes. Details and hassles that I had accepted as the way things were. Their purpose suddenly became clear. My effort and preparation was nothing in comparison to the weight of God's hand, molding me and breaking me, in order that I may learn to understand this woman, my new friend. In order that I may learn to care for her in a deeper, more meaningful way.

I have nothing; thus, nothing to prove.
But this.
For sinners, Lord, Thou cam’st to bleed,
And I’m a sinner vile, indeed.
Lord, I believe Thy grace is free.
O magnify that grace in me.
Joseph Hart, ca. 1757-1759
(free mp3 here)

The boys survived the night with no meltdown. They appeared to have enjoyed playing with the other children. Sick and napless, though they were. Lest their mother thinks she had anything to with their happiness.


Olivia said...

all but with a bit of grace *hugs*

Michelle @ The Willing Cook said...

Thank you for the link to the hymn. This has been my plea all day today. That the Lord would rid me of my self, of my selfishness, and magnify His grace in me. I believe there is nothing more true, more lovely than His free's about time I live like it!

thetoddlerwhisperer said...

I'm infected by that disease too. trying to let loose of my control grip too.

Ruth@GraceLaced said...

Oh sweet I know this very scene at my house as well! The difference between entertaining and hospitality is that true hospitality shares whatever God has given and dealt you--plenty or want, naps or no naps, perfect dinner or delivered pizza. It's not getting all the conditions right so that we can avoid losing control, but to relinquish control regardless of conditions. Thank you for your brutal honesty! Praise the Lord for his unceasing work to sanctify us!

Serenely said...

guilty. i constant strive to make naps, meals, bedtime always at the same time and even the same duration everyday... if something goes different with a nap or if nathan doesn't eat enough of what i want him to, i feel like i've failed somehow. sigh... the word needed is as you say: grace. especially for the delusional

Catherine said...

:) :) :) thanks jie!
i've been constantly reminded too that God is in control and we are not, even though we believe that we are and that we know best. haha we so silly together :)

winifredlam said...

so goooooood! thanks for this