Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

It's been awhile since I have been good and mad. Isn't that a funny phrase? "Good and mad" I tend to think of those as opposites and much of the time being mad is not good. However, God says in His Word, "Be angry and don't sin."

This is one of my favorite verses. Because I do get angry. I get angry about all kinds of things. I get mad when I go to a fast food restaurant and the person behind the counter doesn't greet me or ask me what I would like. (Sometimes I just stare and wait until he breaks down.) I get ticked off at high gas prices because I know that the oil companies are enjoying their highest profit margins ever on the backs of those of us who are struggling to pay the bills. And don't even get me started on how much of that cost of the gallon of gas is federal and state taxes! I get riled up when I am cleaning the kitchen and there are dirty dishes everywhere and the dishwasher has been empty for two days. Am I the only one who knows how to put a dirty dish in the dishwasher? Apparently so.

Most of these are just annoyances or pet peeves. Poor customer service, greedy oil companies, taxes, etc.

Even though these things can get my ire up, I generally can move on rather quickly. I want my life to be richer than that. I don't want to live complaining about every little nuisance. And I do want to have friends.

However, sometimes when I get angry it goes much deeper. It is more than a pet peeve or an annoyance. Sometimes I can get heated because I think I am under attack. This usually happens with those who are closest to me. Mostly my husband.

All the women just said, "Amen." And all the men just stopped reading. Hang in there, guys, you are not under attack.

Here is what happens when a human is attacked. Fight or flight. For me I can go either way. Flight for me looks like silence and distance from the one who I perceive is harming me. Fight looks like a strong verbal defense of my intentions and motives and a lot of explaining of how I am not the "bad guy."

God is truly amazing in how He uses even my anger (especially my anger) to let me know what is going on inside me.

Yesterday started with a really good argument. The details don't matter. What does matter is that it was extremely important to me that Kevin (my husband) understood that he was the bad guy, not me. I really wanted him to know how innocent I was of the charges he made. I couldn't be the one with the problem; I was only handling things as best as I could given the circumstances.

I felt as if I was fighting for my life. And that was the problem. I was defining life as me being the good one. And if my life is wrapped up in everyone thinking I am the good one, then my life is coming from the wrong source.

I tell people that Jesus defines who I am, that it is God who gives me my value, my worth, my identity. If that is to be true, then I can no longer find my value in being esteemed by others as the good one.

Jesus laid down His life for mine. Romans 5:8 says, "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." I was not the good guy. In fact, the Bible charges that we are all alike and we are all under the penalty of sin." There is no one righteous, not even one...there is on one who does good, not even one....their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness....There is no fear of God before their eyes."

I was the bad guy. I was the one who needed redemption. Now that I know Christ, His blood has made me clean. I am now righteous (made good) with God. So I don't have to find my life and value in what others may think of me. I am to follow hard after God and allow His Spirit to lead me. Sometimes I may be labeled "bad."

I think of Christians who are persecuted in other nations because of their faith. They are being labeled as troublemakers by the government and by those around them. I think of all of those in my church who are serving the community through Loveloud this week and weekend. Their work will be labeled good and rightly so.  But what if I were labeled as disturber of the peace if I swung a hammer to help rebuild a home? I can't make my decisions based on what people may think or say about me. I can't do something  only because I want to be called "good".

The flip side of this is that I can't make Kevin out to be the bad guy either. He is clean and set free too. He is good with God.

I've got a long way to go. I really do like being "the good one."

I think this is one of the things Jesus was talking about when He said, "Whoever loses his life for me will find it." The more I let go of finding my life and meaning in being the good one, the more I will find my life in Jesus.

Thank you, Jesus, for making me good with the Father. Thank you that for using even my anger to draw me nearer to you. Thank that my life is found in you and not in how others may label me.

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