Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A lesson taught, but not learned

Psalm 86:15 (NIV)

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
   slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
“These goals are important to me because I can readily recall the many times I’ve fallen short of their lofty standards. I am in need of constant reminders of what God expects — or demands — of me in this life.”

I wrote those words about 24 hours ago about Psalm 145:8-9 (“The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.”) and again tonight the same basic concept leaps off the screen and pokes me in the forehead. I said needed constant reminders, did I not?

Rather than rehash my thoughts on being slow to anger and abounding in love, I’m going to confess to being just as stubborn as my kids. There are plenty of deeper issues to get into, but I’m opting to stay on the surface here. My kids have a lot of simple behavior or habitual issues I simply cannot seem to correct. No one flushes the toilet. Everyone takes their food up to my room (where the TV and Wii are) and leaves dirty dishes. The door between the garage and kitchen is slammed at least 37 times each day. They put every part of their anatomy on the couch except their hindquarters. The list goes on.

Lest I be thought of as a finger-pointer, I have plenty of my own foibles. I wash, dry and fold laundry and somehow never manage to put it away exactly where it goes. I do the dishes yet leave the really icky ones for an extra day or two. I leave tiny scraps of paper everywhere and get frustrated when I can’t find a precise receipt from three weeks ago. I crack my knuckles obsessively. When I eat popcorn my hand serves the same purpose as a feedbag strapped to a horse’s face. Again, this is the surface stuff. Just like my kids, I have plenty of more personal issues I can’t seem to overcome despite repeated instruction to the contrary.

How, then, can I justify losing my patience with my children when I so desperately rely on God’s patience with me? I can’t, obviously, except to report (again) I’m not perfect and will never fully live up to God’s standard. But I must remind myself — daily, apparently — to take the blessings God gives me and give to my children as much as possible. I know I don’t deserve what God continues to give me, but I also believe my children deserve to have a dad who gives his complete and total best at all times. I can’t do it alone, but I know where to go for help.

A prayer for July 23:

Lord, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I’m so stubborn that I force you to keep confronting me with the same things over and over and over again. I’m also sorry I can’t recognize my own shortcomings and see how I am setting a bad example for my kids. I have no business trying to correct behavior in them that I won’t correct in myself. Please help me get myself in order so I can be better suited to guide them. They need me, and they need me at my best. Please help me get there. Amen.

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