Last week I fasted desserts and focused on experiencing a new level of joy, especially in my interactions with the world around me, those in and out of the church. This wasn’t as hard as I thought, in part because of something I discovered when talking to some ladies from my MOPS group. I tend to extend grace to strangers better than to my family.
We’ve been having a rough time with my daughter and discipline. She basically refuses to do anything to help around the house. We’ve begun a new system where her screen time is contingent upon fulfilling of the required chores. There has been very little screen time and even fewer chores accomplished. It is instinct for me to be kind to the check-out girl, the mail man or the receptionist at the doctor’s office. Even if inside I’m fuming, I don’t tend to take it out on an unsuspecting stranger, even perhaps if they deserve it.
My family is another story. I definitely found myself irritable at my lack of dessert. When the kids were finally in bed for the evening it was hard not to feel a little disappointed when I remembered that I was fasting dessert and so there would be no chocolate waiting for me. I wish I could say that I didn’t mind or that it was an easy sacrifice. It wasn’t. I pretty much hated every minute of it. It was already a rough week last week and taking dessert out make it harder for sure.
But it does have me thinking a lot about how to depend on God more. I just helped finish choreographing and practicing a dance for eight little girls to Jars of Clay’s I Need Thee Every Hour. So the song has been in my head a lot. I so desperately need Jesus, every hour. Sometimes all I can ask for is the grace to get through the next hour and try not to think about the one after that.
Matthew 6:34 “So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.” (Amplified Bible)
In the case of a mom, sufficient to the hour is the chaos. I can’t worry about how I will get through today, next week, next month or next year. I need to focus on being here now, for the next hour.
For most Christian traditions, this is a significant week. Holy week. The time we reflect on the last days of Jesus life leading up to the crucifixion. So for this week I’m going to focus on unforgiveness. Christ’s sacrifice extended forgiveness to us; we need to be prepared to do the same to others. What you fast this week doesn’t necessarily matter. Pick something you’ve already fasted or something new. The purpose of the fast is to draw our attention to an area of unforgiveness that needs to be addressed. Is there someone in our lives or in our pasts who we need to forgive? I know we all have them. That one person who you can’t look at without remembering a particular incident? Just being in the same room with them is painful. You find yourself justifying your hostility and anger towards him or her.
It seems easier just to hold onto unforgiveness, especially if the person doesn’t seem particularly sorry. But we need to forgive them anyway, for our own sakes. I know I have a few of these on my heart. It is so much easier sometimes to retreat than to continue to interact with someone that has hurt you, especially if they don’t seem to care or don’t know how they’ve hurt you. But this week I’m going to focus on forgiveness. I’ll be honest, I don’t know how exactly to go about it. I think of it kind of like love. Love isn’t just a feeling, it’s an intentional way of being and acting towards someone. Sometimes the actions actually matter more than the feelings and the feelings will follow. So this week I’m going to focus on behaving in a loving fashion to those who have hurt me, and praying desperately to God for grace to extend.
The past five weeks haven’t been easy ones, and I find myself short of strength and patience. So I must depend even more on Christ. I need his forgiveness, his grace, his love in excess so that I can extend it better to others.