I catch my four-year-old rifling through the wooden, oak-stained, memory box that my Grandpa Charlie made for me years ago. Pictures litter the carpet as he immerses himself in the parts of my life he's yet to understand. "You have so much memory in here, Mommy."
I grin. He curiously pulls out a VHS tape and turns it over in his hands. I shrug as he comments on my 90's hair and fashion choices, and answer as many questions as possible. They're flying from his little mouth at warp speed. He fixates on a scrapbook that a friend from college made for me. I try to explain what a "Resident Advisor" does in a dorm, but he's already moved on to the next interesting thing.
As I drift into my own thoughts, I contemplate the countless hours I spent at that job - often manning the front desk into the wee hours of the morning. As many times as I tackled noise complaints or roommate arguments, I came to understand how much people dislike confrontation and discomfort. They choose avoidance at all costs, all too often at the heavy price of lost relationships. Faces and situations pop into my thoughts, sticking heavy and troublesome, and all due to a more recent event in my life. A theme emerges:
People. Never. Change. Well, that's to say that human nature never does. We tend to hide. We avoid.
Just a couple of weeks ago, my husband and I received a hateful letter in our mailbox from "Anonymous." Those types of letters are, of course, always anonymous. In a furious stroke of pen and invisibility, a disgruntled individual decided to let our family know exactly what he (or she) thought of our decision to sell a rental property. The writer was unquestionably frustrated with the current housing market and was concerned about how our sale would affect his.
The night we discovered the letter, I was a mess. Tears flowed as my husband and I fervently checked our motives. It had been extremely personal - assuming the very worst about us, without its writer ever having bothered to reach out in person. Our faith was questioned, as was our intelligence. We were even told to leave the neighborhood.
Not knowing what to do, I prayed. Again. I'd had peace in past months for our decision to sell. So, over and over, I let God sand down the rough edges of my prickly attitude and the defensive rebuttals I'd constructed in my mind. Though pain has been replaced with compassion for this seething community member, I'm still disappointed that a resolution is unlikely.
Because you can't fix what hides in the dark.
Here's the thing about stinging words that are sowed in secret:
1. We never end up getting what we want. Even if we do, we often feel terrible over our rotten behavior later.
2. We're robbed of a potential relationship as the grudge eats us from the inside out.
3. We'll never mature out of emotional infancy if we don't allow ourselves to experience the discomfort (and then the freedom) of conflict resolution.
The words in the picture above, taken from the book of Matthew, strike me. Did you know that even our offerings are irrelevant if we bring them to God, but harbor a grudge against somebody? He cares about how we get along with the people in our lives! He cares about our reactions to strife, our help, and our follow-through.
Because, it's in those relationships that He gives us glimpses of His grace.
Maybe there's somebody in your life or a situation that needs to be dealt with. Who's the person? Identify the problem and pray about what your next step could be.
I hope that you'll be emboldened to reach out with an apology, or a message of goodwill or concern. I may never get a chance to make amends with "Anonymous," but I pray that you'll seek peace in your own life.
Let our offerings be given this week, uninhibited and bearing the joyful freedom found in our healing - all because we risked a little discomfort.
A fellow "work in progress,"
M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy. Earns Crossfit participation trophies. Disaster cook. Enthusiastic wife. #Boymom. Clutches her faith, not her pearls.