Have you ever gotten discouraged after finding out someone’s negative opinion of you? God sees us as a work in progress whether people do or not, but some days I have wanted to crawl into a hole never to emerge. On second thought, I change it to “banishing” myself to a secluded self-sustaining farm…near the beach. What about my family? Oh, right. One of my family members is what got me started on this subject. Let me tell you a story…
“Mama, I’m a tiger,” my then three-year-old son declared one Sunday morning while clutching his tiny, stuffed tiger, Stripers. He loves Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and sometimes would play in that land of make-believe, complete with Tigie’s clone, Stripers.
But it was what he said next that surprised me. “Mama, you’re not a mama-tiger, you’re a dinosaur.” I laughed along with the rest of us as he continued to declare other family members as the animal he viewed them. He said his baby sister was a sheep, and his Daddy was a zebra. (My husband, Justin’s salt-and-pepper hair comes to mind. Hah!) He named almost all of his family members, giving us all a good chuckle before church.
I can’t believe I’m about to tell you this. Later, while pondering my son’s choice of animal for me, I recalled a recent memory. I caught my reflection in the bathroom mirror while my son wreaked havoc as he “washed” his hands. It was dinosaur-like—as in angry dinosaur. I can only imagine you’re picturing me with this ridiculous face. I looked comical enough to dispel some of the anger I was feeling at the time.
God knew I had been trying to love my son during his year-long potty training stubbornness instead of getting impatient with him. I had been trying to make a practice of putting off anger; the change was slow coming. I mean, my son said I was a dinosaur. I told my friends I was convinced God had given this kid to me for my sanctification. Seriously, though, I didn’t want the prolonged transformation of sanctification to dip me into discouragement.
Discouragement can stop the course of spiritual growth in us as much as anything. I think it’s good to allow God to bring change to our hearts as we apply the Word, but He also gives us a healthy dose of grace. God is ever merciful.
Proverbs 17:22 NASB A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.
The Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon refers to the word “broken” from Proverbs 17:22 as an afflicted, sad spirit. I love how the KJV says a “merry” heart. A merry heart keeps us from getting discouraged.
During the interim of stretched patience, I realized I had made a negative impression on my son, but it didn’t have to be lasting. I decided the next time I was tempted to lose my cool with him, it was better to remember my ludicrous, roaring expression as a way to move forward. I could give myself grace, put off anger, and flip the hand-washing-drudgery into fun. I could play one of our favorite invented song games with him instead of roaring out commands.
Since my son likes animals so much, we pretend to be a different animal while singing the alphabet song as we wash his hands. One day he asked me to be a fox. It is hilarious when we pretend to be the stealthy, sly fox singing the alphabet. I don’t think we have ever gotten through the entire alphabet without busting a gut.
I’m not trying to say to laugh at our sin, or refuse to deal with it. I’m not suggesting to wink at our weaknesses, or “frustrate the grace of God.” I’m telling you today that we can give ourselves grace and move forward in the joy of the Lord while God’s preparing His spotless Church to meet Him one day at His coming (Ephesians 5:27).
That, to me, is thriving.
Comedy DVD Giveaway
In honor of this message, I’m hosting a giveaway of Christian comedian Tim Hawkins newest DVD, Just About Enough. My husband and I had to sell our tickets to a local show of his when I was near the due date with baby number
four last. I have precipitous labor, and I was concerned I wouldn’t have made it to the hospital in time. (As a matter of fact, she was my fastest. 1 hour, 41-minute labor. We were only in the hospital room 9 MINUTES before she was born. Adrenaline rush, anyone?) So I thought it would be fun to have this giveaway because that means that my husband had to buy me the DVD to “preview the giveaway package.” Don’t worry, the winner will receive an unopened one.
Tuesday, March 7 – Sunday, March 19
Update: the giveaway has now ended.
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