Oh, the Things I Would Do, If I Didn’t Have You!

When the going gets tough, the tough often take it out on those closest to them.

That’s not the saying? My bad.

It is, however, the truth.

Sometimes we Christians start to think we’re pretty cool. We’re grooving along with God, we’ve got our devotional rhythm down to a science. We’re showing up at church, we’re taking risks, we’re living way out of our comfort zone, we’re exercising spiritual gifts we didn’t know existed when

BAM!

We get hit with an unexpected trial, a stressor we didn’t see coming and it’s like someone threw a loose bolt into our gearbox, our spiritual groove grinds to a halt and it’s not pretty.

Instead of a muscle cramp, it’s like a character cramp.

Suddenly we’re four-years-old. “I thought you were going to handle that. Do I have to do everything?” “No, I distinctly remember that we agreed to a different course of action.” “Why do you always react like this?” “Can’t you, for once, put me first?” “I knew this would happen. I told you it would go this way and now, here we are.” “I can’t do it all, you know.” “I wish you people would get your acts together with God!” “No one listens to me.” “What is these peoples’ problem?”

We find ourselves in a funhouse mirror hallway where the people in our lives – our spouse, children, parents, siblings, church mates, coworkers, and leaders – appear as distorted caricatures of themselves. We wonder why we never noticed how annoying these people were when things were calm.

Now that all hell has broken loose, we think we’re seeing clearly and we’re asking ourselves why we didn’t cut these losers loose a long time ago. We would be so much better off, further ahead, more spiritual, richer, happier, healthier, more accomplished without them!

When Moses was leading the children of Israel in the wilderness, they, too, had their moments.

“10 Moses heard the people of every family wailing at the entrance to their tents. The LORD became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. 11 He asked the LORD, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth?” Numbers 11

14 I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.” Numbers 11

Didn’t realize that Moses whined sometimes? He was just like us, baby. Yup, the guy who parted the Red Sea, basically said “Just kill me now, Lord. I’ve had it with these people.”

Just like funhouse mirrors, however, the distorted perspective of those we love is a twisted version of the truth. When it happens, imagine that Satan’s minions are dancing around between you and your spouse, your church mates, your co-workers, flashing invisible mirrors that emphasize their most unattractive traits. Then, take a look at yourself in that mirror.

Ewww.

Then, look into the mirror of God’s Word.

It’s normal to need to unload during stressful times. (Don’t I know it.) But if you read the Psalms, you’ll see that David unloaded pretty regularly on God. In the poetic language of believers, we say “pour out your heart to God.” In other words, unload on Jesus, not those sitting next to you in the foxhole. (or the cubicle, the pew, the living room)

And remember the truth that we are better off with each other – even the most annoying among us. The writer of Ecclesiastes says “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12

We were created to be in relationship. It’s messy, frustrating, exhausting, demanding, maddening, humbling and sometimes smelly but we are better people because of the other people in our lives.

As you know, our family is undergoing amazing stress. I shocked my brother today by allowing a word to escape my lips that would have been bleeped on network television. When my husband, parents, and I took my son out for his birthday last week-end, we had to make it a rule that no one would tell him anything we think is wrong with him during the meal – we almost made it. It’s going to be a long month as we move into a home that needs considerable work while my husband adjusts to a new job and my daughter makes decisions about college.

I see full-length funhouse mirrors in the days ahead.

But, God reminds me daily to go to the only mirror that speaks truth – the mirror of His word – and there find the strength and grace to see those I love the way He sees them. If He spent His days focused on what was wrong with us, who could stand? Not I.

Are there people in your life? Thank God! They aren’t there by accident. Treasure them – even the annoying ones. Remember, there’s probably someone reading this blog post thinking this means they should treasure you more this week.

When I start to imagine how amazing I would be without the trying people in my world, I think of this song from Quest for Camelot. May it also be a goad in your side, loved ones.

Just for fun, listen to Pumba and Timon – these cartoon characters got it right.

I know these are tense days, loved ones, but let’s take the Lord seriously, not ourselves. Laugh. Love. Laugh again.

Thank God for those who stand with us.

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2 Comments

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  1. Dorothy P says:

    Lori: You are a great example of how to react during the bad times. I imagine things can’t get much worse for you but your faith seems steadfast. Thank you for your words and your example. At the moment this blog is a great help to me.

  2. Thanks so much for expressing on “paper” my innermost feelings about a certain person in my life. I needed your words! Praying for you, dear sister in Christ. I am not such a humble person, and I have too much self-reliance. God showed me all the things that come into my life are from Him to humble me and make me completely trust Him for everything in my life. Hard lessons to learn, but needful.