Usually. Not saying there are times tears might not fall. Especially when my heart is bruised and I need a shoulder to lean on.
But I'm ok with it. I am a realist. Life happens. Like Forest Gump said.
Instead I sat here with my good headphones on, the ones I use for calling, and turned on music. These headphones are good! Music sounds fuller in them. I haven't just sat and listened to music for a long time. I used to more often. It's good to do. Especially when my heart is bruised and I need a shoulder to lean on.
I clicked on a new cd someone put on my computer. I like this group, but had just never gotten around to listening to this album. (Like I said, haven't been listening to music that often. Sometimes it is hard to do. Especially when my heart is bruised.)
It is Phillips, Craig, & Dean's album "Let the Worshipers Arise". Nothing new. But these are voices I am used to, and with my personality and history, I push people away easily and am wary, hesitant to trust. So voices I am used to, that have history with me, I listen to easier.
The first song is "I am a Friend of God." I just sat back and listened and let it wash over my hurting heart. And then I smiled. You see, I come from and at times still function in, a conservative background - varied, but conservative. While being raised rubbing shoulders with all other varieties of believers. And I remember distinctly the voice of one of my friends, older than me, criticizing this song.
"We are NOT all friends of God. God doesn't call all friends. He says only that 'if you obey my commands you are My friends'!"
There is always that, isn't there? A sort of two-tiered Christianity. The carnal Christians and the devout Christians. The "friends of God" who obey Him and the "others". The "disciples" and the "just Christians".
I work in the guidance room of a highschool with my new student. I am there to attend to physical needs, but in all my copious spare time that my student doesn't need a book handed to him or to use the bathroom, I help out where I can. I tutor, help crowd control, circulate, encourage, provide supervision so over-worked teachers can walk to the bathroom and re-gather their wits.
Last week, we had a student in the English class go off on a verbal rampage. We were talking about parents and writing an essay titled "Raising Teens - Difficult or A Piece of Cake". They were to pick a answer and write about it. This one boy started off in answer to a prompting question on how if a mom had more than one kid and one kid always obeyed and was good, she'd love that one the most. If she had one kid that was not easy, she would love that one less. He would not stop, he would not listen, and he just kept going.
The teacher and I are both moms. I have teens. Hers are grown.
The kid can't even imagine how wrong he is.
I told him so. We both did. We told him that he doesn't understand the heart of a mother. While a child's behavior can and does make our job easier or harder and a difficult child can tire us out and leave us less energy and we might snap at him, he doesn't understand our hearts.
It is the love of the misbehaved one that keeps us awake at night praying and crying. Our heart's are tuned to the struggling one perhaps even more than the obedient one and we spend hours thinking, praying, and trying.
Love does not depend on or change because of behavior.
He just didn't know how wrong he was.
And today when I heard my friend's voice mocking this song and saying we are not all friends of God - only if we are obedient.... I picked up her words, walked over to the garbage bin, lifted the lid, threw them in, and slammed the lid back down.
My behavior does not in any way change my status with God.
It might break His heart. It might cause Him pain. He might wish better for me. He will work in my life. But
I AM NOT ACCEPTED ANY LESS.
The next song was "Because I am forgiven". I had just sat down and read Nehemiah. I was struck by their commitment to "forgo the exacting of every debt". It just seemed not a big deal - not something that needed to be in that commitment they made to God after seeing their sin. But there it is.
God's been talking to me very gently about forgiveness. I say gently because that is how He is doing it. Quietly. Asking questions. Waiting. Gently because He's not saying, "you sinner! you need to forgive!" Gently because He's not saying, "It wasn't really that important, just forgive!" Gently because He sees and knows these are real offenses, difficult and painful ones, and old wounds. Times where I have done everything right as much as I knew how, and still was wounded. So gently, He's been asking me questions. Laying this topic on the table. Let's talk forgiveness.
I've learned not to rush God nor run from Him. To let Him ask and talk to me. To not say, "Oh, God is talking to me about forgiveness, ok, let me say the words and just do it!" God is not after my words or even my will. He's not after me forcing myself to conform to what I think His will is. He's after my heart, and He's more interested that I learn what His forgiveness is, what it means, before I substitute my own version. Letting me see Him, so I can follow.
And His people felt it was important to commit to not seeking to exact every debt from people. If we think only of money, that is an easy one. Ok, so they won't pay back... ok... well... life happens. But what if we set that truth in a different setting? What if we talk about offenses and not money? It is a question, among others, that I am pondering today. Even today, when my heart is freshly bruised.
Music is good. I still sit, letting it wash over me. Wishing my friend was free to talk to, but realizing that this is also good. Listening to "You Are God Alone".... "in the good times and the bad, You are God alone". Even now, even here, God is still on His throne, unshaken by the events in my life, not loving me less, not tired of me, and still working in the situation.
And still quietly asking me questions.
I think, coming from my background, that is one thing I appreciate the most about God - His quiet way of asking questions, of letting me respond, instead of forcing me. It was also what I appreciated most from the one who took me by the hand and led me back to sit with God without fear. To look up and see love, not judgement, in His eyes.