|Obviously, my trip looked nothing like this, but man, it feels like it sometimes.|
I didn't really expect to learn a lesson about myself in the grocery store yesterday, but like most lessons I've learned, the timing wasn't really up to me.
My kids wanted to go to the new Lidl store around the corner. It's an interesting store, full to the brim with natural light and an eclectic assortment of goods. And I swear they pipe the smell of fresh, hot cookies baking throughout the store because you CANNOT escape it.
The thing about Lidl stores, though, is that you have to bag your own groceries. Fine! I knew that, and I was prepared.
We had two carts, with a little sibling in the front of each. Ryan was in charge of one cart over to the side and holding Phinehas's hand, while Emily and I sorted out the bagging of the groceries in the other cart.
When we had the groceries arranged appropriately, I looked up, and Ryan had wandered off about 10-15 feet. He and Phinehas were playing some sort of "ride the cart and swing it around game," and it really irritated me.
I scolded him, and asked him to think through the reasons why he should NOT be doing what he was doing. He was able to come up with "Phinehas might get hurt," and I was more than happy to add on a couple more reasons.
I was pretty happy with my parenting solution. Score one for mom for helping with that frontal lobe development!
But Emily was NOT happy, and because she's related to me AND a teenager, it was remarkably obvious. I asked her what was wrong, and after a little prodding, she said something like this:
That was really loud mom, and really embarrassing. You really embarrassed him.Two things happened in that moment. First, I realized I had just disrespected my son in public. I'm trying to build this kid's self-esteem, not decimate it. I may have just influenced his ability to think through consequences, but I also hurt him unnecessarily.
Second, and more importantly, I realized I had been so loud, not just because I naturally AM (and I REALLY AM), but because I wanted to be seen parenting his misbehavior well.
I wanted to be seen parenting well.
That really hurts to write. It hurts to put out there. But there it is because it's honest.
I had this moment where the Holy Spirit held a mirror to my face and said, "You need to see this as it really is. You need to see what your intentions were."
I apologized to Ryan right away. I told him I was sorry for disrespecting him in front of all those people. He needed to be corrected, but his heart also needs to be protected, and I had wounded him for the sake of my own pride.
After we got settled in the car, I also had to thank Emily for correcting me. That, too, was humbling, but necessary. Sometimes, my kids will try to correct my parenting, and they get a "talk to the hand" response. They'll understand when they're parents.
But this was very different. She expressed herself respectfully, and she was RIGHT. If it hadn't been for her, I wouldn't have been able to see the error of my ways, and she needed to know that was appreciated.
The more I thought about it, though, that behavior has a tendency to be my modus operandi: I consistently struggle between my desire to give my best to God, and my desire to be SEEN giving my best to God.
In my parenting...
In my marriage...
In my friendships...
In my worship...
In my writing...
On my facebook wall...
I've often commented that God gave me "showy" gifts. Singing, writing, speaking. Teaching and exhortation. The expression of most of my gifts involves me being seen, but with them come a constant struggle with my own pride.
I read an article this morning about Francis Chan, and why he left the church he was pastoring. He said about the period after his book Crazy Love was published:
I freaked out during that point in my life....The pride...[going to] a conference and seeing my face on a magazine...and hearing whispers...and walking into a room and actually liking it.Man...that resonates with me. I haven't written a book yet, and my face certainly hasn't adorned any magazine covers, but I can still see me in that statement.
Jesus was pretty clear about where he stood on this behavior:
Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people,
to be seen by them.
Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in Heaven.
So whenever you give to the poor,
don't sound the trumpets before you,
like the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets,
to be applauded by people.
I assure you: They've got their reward.
Matthew 6:1-3 (HCSB, emphasis added)
My flesh desires greatly to be seen. What's left for me, then? Do I stop sharing those gifts? Maybe, for a time, if it gets out of hand, but generally, His grace is sufficient for me, for His power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
So when I worship, sometimes, I vacillate between a genuine outpouring of praise and worrying about what people are thinking about me, and then I smile and think to myself, "forgive me, thank your grace is sufficient."
When I write, I vacillate between genuinely wanting to share hope and healing and wondering how many people will read the post and how I can boost my numbers. When that happens, I smile and pray and ask for forgiveness, and praise God that His grace is sufficient to cover that, too.
I'm telling all this for two reasons. First, because sharing it keeps me in check. If I have made the world aware that I desire to be seen, it's a little easier to remember to be humble; I've admitted my weakness to the world, and the world has a way of reminding you of those weaknesses.
But also, because I know I'm not alone. There are an abundance of Bible verses about pride because, as fallible humans, it's one of our greatest faults.
Your struggle may not look exactly the same, but I would fairly confidently assert that it's roots are in pride and selfishness: a need to be right, a need to know, a need to feel desired, a need for control. They all come from the same place.
No matter what your particular brand of pride looks like, know that His grace is sufficient for you, too. He loves you anyway, in a way that is deeper and wider than your comprehension, and it began before He laid the foundations of the earth.
Whether your lessons come in the hazy morning light after a night of mistakes, the computer lit glare of an internet faux pas, or (like me) the front of a remarkably sun-lit grocery store, the pure, dazzling light of your Savior covers it all.
He holds His light to our blemishes, not so we can be ashamed of them, but so we can see them in contrast with his perfection and make appropriate corrections. The only way to be MORE like Him, is to see the ways in which we are NOTHING like Him, and to be more like Him is, daily, my goal.