They say confession is good for the soul.
This is the deal: I fell in love with the Bible study, What Love Is...(as everyone knows by now.) So when I finished it in early March, I immediately started right back on session 1. (As everyone knows by now...) And I loved it just as much as I had before!!! Week one and week two and the first three days of week three were great! Uplifting beyond words! Just like before!
The workbook and the Scripture didn't change but life did....
Suddenly a relative needed help while recovering from a nasty fall and subsequent surgery. I'm the only one in the family not working so I didn't hesitate to volunteer.
I knew everything would be a little different but it would only be for a few days; plus I'm a loving kind of people-person - so I really had no doubt that I could do it. I understood that the "patient" thinks my personal beliefs are unenlightened and that it's her job to educate me. And it's pretty obvious that she thinks she has the low down on every topic under the sun. (But I know she doesn't ... because, actually, I do... And since we hardly see eye to eye on anything we can't both be right.) And I knew that she was a bit demanding and not prone to express appreciation- although I'm sure she feels it. And I knew that she has a tendency to talk non-stop for,,,, well... hours at a time. But it would only be for a week or two at the most so while I wasn't jumping for joy over the temporary assignment, I wasn't too worried either.
In fact, looking back I can honestly say that the things that did cause me unease were mechanical issues such as how we would manage the bathroom thing. Or the eating thing. Or the being woozy-headed while walking thing. Or the re-bandaging the wound thing.
But I always fell back on this thought: it's only for a few days so how hard can it be?
Well, it's this hard: by the end of my third day of cheerful, selfless,loving care giving ( /= )I was literally wondering whose head I should beat against the wall - mine or hers... You may think I'm kidding but I assure you that I'm not.
And during the day before that, after one particularly testy and prolonged monologue where I received unwanted instruction on everything from A to Z, I opened my Bible Study workbook only to get this message: lack of love for a brother or sister is a sure sign that you are not in fellowship with God.
And I just wanted to look up at the Heavens and yell, "God! Are You SERIOUS???? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Do you KNOW what I'm having to put up with??? And besides that, SHE STARTS IT !!! EVERY SINGLE BLINKING TIME!!!! I DON'T BRING UP THE CONTROVERSIAL STUFF!!! AND I SURE DON'T EVER GET TO FINISH IT ... BECAUSE I CAN HARDLY GET A BLOOMING WORD IN EDGEWISE!!!!"
However, I didn't yell (out loud anyway). Instead I finished day four's lesson because I didn't want to fall behind...and took some aspirin...
Amazing how quickly a Bible passage can lose it's luster...
The next day's lesson was, truthfully, even worse. I opened my workbook and this appeared before my mutinous eyes: Jesus told us that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for someone else.
Seriously?? Lord, I am contemplating laying HER life down... not mine...
However, I quickly realized that it was okay because this passage would apply to someone who was in a war zone or a robbery or something like that and therefore was not likely to happen.
I resumed my lesson and the author got to me, as if she had been reading my torqued little mind. Basically I encountered words to this effect: if we just look at that verse in John as if it refers to our physical life only, we've missed the point. Having to die physically to protect someone is not likely to happen to most of us. Plus physical death is actually easier than laying your life down day by day in little ways and large ways for the sake of others.
I cried. Not a lot but enough to show me where my heart was. Tears of self-pity. Tears of wounded pride. Tears of selfishness.
Not repentant tears and not confessional tears.
I came face to face with my own heart and immediately looked away. Soon afterwards I went home (venting all the way), proceeded to eat chocolate (by the barrel full), and watched a movie (Jane Austen).
This morning was beautiful and the patient was sleeping so I sat outside on a screened-in porch, surrounded by the delightful music of birds in spring. I didn't have an excuse not to do my Bible study so after some procrastination (where I nursed my grudges from the previous days) I opened up my workbook (with some trepidation) and read this:
"You may be in a place where the Lord is calling you to lay your life down for another in a specific instance. If this is you - even if it seems like the most insignificant of ways - respond to God about what He's asking of you."
My response took up a closely written page - I couldn't even begin to fit it into the answer space provided on the workbook page so I didn't even try. Ha!
And then I read the next question:
"You may need a deeper understanding of the love that God poured out on you. You'll never love others if you haven't first grasped His love. Spend more time asking the Lord to open your eyes to the way He's poured His love out for you."
"You'll never love others if you haven't first grasped His love..."
Okay, Lord, please open my eyes and show me Your love that you have poured out on me...
And this is what He showed me: this current trial was a lavish outpouring of His love...
I cried again. This time with repentance and gratitude. While He continued to open my eyes.
He showed me that it was His plan for this unpalatable task to clash with the very lesson I was working on at this exact time in this exact week,month,and year.
Not because He hates me (or my long-suffering in-law) but because He wanted the words on the printed page - guidance in truth and instruction in how to both receive love and give it away - He wanted those words to move from my head to my heart.
And because He wanted me to see the paucity of my own ability to love so that I would discard my pride and reach out for a deeper in-filling of His.
That's it. He just wanted to pour out more love on me and my pride was preventing Him from doing that. So He put me in a situation where pride had to go out the window.
Now that I've been a caregiver for a whacking four whole days, I can honestly say that I don't know how stuff like this ever works on the strictly human level - I tried and just couldn't make it happen without gritting my teeth and/or wanting to do bodily harm to the one I was supposed to be loving.
But now I know how it works on the supernatural level: you admit you stink at selfless loving. That's the first step. Then you ask Him to fill you up to the brim with His supernatural love until it just slops over onto those around you. That's it: step 1, step 2. He does the rest. (Note: you don't ask Him - through gritted teeth - to give you more love for the one who is driving you crazy - which is the way I had been going about it).
By the way, I highly recommend the Bible study - What Love Is... by Kelly Minter.
I just thought I'd mention it in case I haven't told you already...