Nov 30, 2006

Offendable or Meek

I may never have another time like this again, though I hope I do. It’s been more than a year and a half since I lived alone, but now I’m housesitting for a month and rediscovering life with only God and I. An ice storm came through yesterday. The sky is gray, the air clear, and the rooftops white. Multiple-paned windows are frosted in the perfect winter ways, little circles open in the middle of each, and the flora beyond is still a mix of browns and greens and yellows and white. My class on Isaiah is probably cancelled for the day, and I will stay holed up here until the ice melts or I can no longer stand the milkless state of the refrigerator (or my sister goes into labor).

I’ve learned to be completely flexible in these months of living with others—or so I thought. God revealed the limits of this to me recently, and the borders of my flexibility have to do with choice. When it has been my choice to place myself in a position where my own plans and activities are necessarily influenced by those I’m living with, I’ve become perfectly content with being tossed to-and-fro by their desires and ways. But when I’ve not made the choice, when I think I’m in a place to make autonomous decisions, my flexibility level severely decreases. I found myself feeling totally taken advantage of twice in the last two weeks, because others have made choices for me that directly impacted my time and space to write and sing and study. I didn’t know such selfishness still existed in me, to the extent that I would desire against hospitality and struggle so with longsuffering. This comes on top of a month in which every day there has been a blatant opportunity to take offense at someone, and I have struggled each time to make the choice not to take it. Most of these opportunities would sound funny…a woman chooses a seat behind me and then mutters to her neighbor how the “big person” in front is blocking her view…a man adds a chair to his row so his wife can sit next to him, effectively blocking the aisle 90 class-members have to use to get to their seats and making my knees the one major obstacle between all of them and the door…friends make and eat a big meal in front of me when I’m so hungry my stomach is growling, then offer me none of it… All of these were points to choose between becoming harder or softer, offendable or meeker. When something difficult happens to me, rather than having been chosen by me, my heart rebels. It’s easier to blame oneself and receive guilt-releasing forgiveness from God; it’s harder to face others’ culpability and walk in guilt-releasing forgiveness toward them!

My father laughed at my trial and said, “this is so good for you”. I agree. Though it would have been a smoother, happier two weeks without the difficulties, it’s nice to know that I’m still important enough to the Lord for Him to custom-arrange a little trial… I opened myself up for it, knowingly. It takes endurance (sometimes translated patience) to finish the race well, to receive the crown of life, to overcome and sit on a throne with Jesus, and so I’ve asked for endurance to be worked in my soul. (James 1:2-4) Now I’m reckoning up as joy what had me in tears so many times this month. Its good to have dross rise to the surface, otherwise it would stay festering inside, ruining the purity of something that is meant to glorify the utterly holy God.