This is a simple lesson. I sit here and think how I should probably just bypass blogging and go straight for the shower, since I am post-workout and a little unlovely. But I am reminded of the church marquee down the road that says, "Don't lessen the lesson". Sometimes it's the small things that bear repeating. I once heard a pastor say that Max Lucado shouldn't be the only one telling stories. This is why I love blogging.
A week or so ago, while my husband was out of town, I decided to be all crafty and homemakey and repaint the old rocking chair in our son's room. The chair belonged to my parents; they bought it when Mom was pregnant with me and once I knew we were expecting Joel, I called dibs on the chair. I felt like I could handle some spray paint and so I set to work once little man was down for the night. It took two nights to complete (I had to run to Walmart for more paint on the second day) but I did it! And I was ecstatic about the results and couldn't wait to show it off to my husband so he could laud my home making skills.
He was impressed. However, being an inexperienced painter, I was unaware of something: not only did I spray paint a 30 year old rocking chair, but... I also spray painted our garage.
So, there is overspray e v e r y w h e r e. On every surface. Nothing was necessarily damaged, I mean, heck, if it's in the garage the odds are that it's not something super duper precious (I had backed the car out... hallelujah for that). So, everything is fine, aside from my husband's lawn mower seat that now has a permanent image of some pliers and a roll of tape or something that he had sitting there.
This is how memories are made in a life, right?
But I began thinking: what is the overspray in my life? What am I reaching, touching, covering? Shoot, what am I wrecking? What am I doing and what is the effect and is it a good thing, a pretty finished product, or is it miniscule damage that has a wide reach and a heavy hand? What looks like a faint dusting actually leaves a mark... like the seat on our lawn mower.
The past few months I have been concentrating heavily on making an effort, a genuine act, a habit out of being grateful. There have been some hard, hurtful things, but there has been beautiful things. And I'm finding reasons to be thankful in the teeniest, tiniest moments of every day life. And it fills me up with joy and peace and so instead of walking around, carrying a perpetual rotten tomato, ready to hit the next slow-poke on my way to anywhere (because we all know that our hurry is always justified) I am walking around and calming the heck down.
But for those who don't... for those who are negative, who make a habit of only seeing the bad or only sitting outside the porch of yesterday... Well, honey, I'm sorry to tell you, but your overspray is ruining stuff. It reaches farther than just your own soul bitterness. My Mom always said how it's easier for someone to pull you down than it is for you to pull them up... same lesson applies here. Sometimes we get with our friends and we just vent and the words out of our mouths are words that shouldn't even be spoken anymore. It's over. It's done. Stop the overspray. Stop painting things that were never meant to be painted. Do what is intended and necessary, but stop being the wrecking ball in your life.
We all know the admonishing speak in the Bible regarding our tongues and the damage that can be done with it. There is a lot of correlation between our hearts and our minds - what you think is what you speak. What your heart looks like, well, it falls right past your lips and onto the ears in front of you. We have to renew our minds, train them, guard them... we have to take the reigns with our thoughts. And if you're thinking, thinking, thinking about all that then that felt like this and looked like that, well, it's quite possible you're going to ruin more than yourself. When we are griping about things, do we ever stop to think what this means to our witness? To our professed life as a Christ-follower?
We are commanded (commanded!) to give thanks in all things. To pray for everything with thanks. How is gratefulness moved to the front of the line if we're complaining? How is it thankful, content, well-fed peace when we are saying words to garner sympathy and attention? In the Song of Solomon it says that, "... it's the little foxes that spoil the vines." (Song of Songs, 2:15) It's not the big stuff - many times those are the good stories. The ones that have hope somewhere deep inside, underneath the poisoned apple skin. What damages us are the day to day little things.
The day to day ungratefulness.
I think sometimes we are too easy on ourselves. Convinced that what we do isn't that bad. That we've earned the right to be a little ugly sometimes. But when Christians sin, we pay a high price. It's a big deal when we're not doing the smallest lessons. As Charles Spurgeon said, "Christians can never sin cheaply; they pay a heavy price for iniquity. Transgression destroys peace of mind, obscures fellowship with Jesus, hinders prayer and brings darkness over the soul; therefore do not be a slave to sin." I hear that. It burns. I can't sin cheaply. It's expensive to do the wrong that I do. The wrong that I think and say.
I will choose to spray paint in the open air next time vs. in our garage because I know better, now, and we can choose different with our conversation. That's grace. That's the beauty of a new morning and new mercies. I mean goodness, you get to pick out the paint color and how you want the finished product to look. That's up to you. You get to choose. Spray paint stays in the can unless you do something. You point, you guide. You alone.
We see what we want to see.
There's a lot in this life we can't control; but whether or not our tongues stir love or burn down houses isn't one of them...
"If you want to hear God say,
'Well done, good and
You have to do what God says."
~ Veggie Tales, Gideon the Tuba Warrior