Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Anger

 

“Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Ephesians 4:26

 

A voice woke me up in my sleep.  It said, “Go down and apologize to him now.  Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.”  I looked at my clock and it was 1:30 a.m.  But no one was standing there to tell me, it was God.

 

I had a big argument with my husband the previous day.  He rarely gets angry, but he was very mad at me.  I got mad back.  I yelled.  I made our daughter feel so uncomfortable that her stomach began to hurt.  I didn’t want to admit that I was wrong.  The anxiety I suffer causes me to be very negative.  It is out of fear.  I figure if I address what is wrong, I am somehow solving it.  I am not, I am just complaining.  

 

My husband and daughter, every week go out to have dinner and ice cream.  It is their daddy-daughter date.  My husband and daughter sometimes invite me along.  Before we left, I was listening to a lesson from a group I joined regarding establishing good habits to get into better health.  I just listened to a lesson on how bad it is to eat too much sugar.  That should be a no brainer, but I have a bad sweet tooth.  So, when my daughter had me try her food, I could taste how sweet was the orange chicken.  I cringed and said, “this is too sweet to eat and then you are going to have ice cream? UGH!”  My husband said, “really?  Does everything that comes out of your mouth have to be so negative?”  I decided to remain ice queen quiet until we left the restaurant.  In the car, he began to explain how he tries to have an enjoyable time with our daughter and how he didn’t appreciate me giving my negative opinion.   I didn’t like that at all.

 

The short car ride home was not my best moment in life.  I was completely out of line and said some nasty things.  I pulled up to the house and then my husband got out to get into the driver’s seat and drove off to their ice cream part of the date.  I was livid. I tried to soothe myself by vacuuming the house. Yes, I clean to decompress sometimes.  About 5 minutes later, our daughter ran into the house and went upstairs.  I followed after to her and she said she feels sick to her stomach.  I asked if it was because of mommy and daddy arguing and she said yes.  I apologized to her for fighting with daddy in front of her.  She put her head down and went into her room.

 

I felt horrible for the rest of the afternoon.  My husband and I stayed out of each other’s way.  I ended up going to bed without trying to make amends with him.  I saw his point and knew I was completely in the wrong.  The sad thing is, I don’t realize how negative I am and how frequent it has become.  I catch myself sometimes when I talk to people and hear myself complaining about things in life. I need to be served a warm cup of “shut the he!! up”!

 

When God woke me up with that Bible verse, I was reminded of something that happened at work about 10 years ago.  I managed a gym and one of the clients was talking about an argument with her husband.  She said a friend told her a story about another husband and wife that had an argument and where the wife gave her husband the silent treatment.  They fell asleep in separate rooms.  When she noticed her husband didn’t leave for work, she went to look for him.  She found him and he passed away in his sleep.  When the lady told the story, I burst into tears as did everyone who heard the story.  Scarred for life.

 

I knew the likelihood of this happening was very small, but still I could not let my issues drive a wedge in my relationship with my husband.  I walked down the stairs and came over to him.  I apologized to him.  I told him, I saw his side and that he is an amazing father.  We “kissed and made up” and I felt that heaviness in my heart leave me.

 

Lesson Learned:  Try your best to reconcile before too long.  You never know when you will lose your chance.

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for pride.  Help me recognize when I am wrong and need to apologize.  Restore the loss in relationships that have gone sour.  Show me my heart and those areas that need change.  In Jesus’ Name.  AMEN!”

Gird those Loins

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”  Ephesians 6:11

The problems we encounter in life are relentless sometimes.  The Bible reminds us in 1 Peter 5:8 to “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” I have had another round of upsetting problems that has been leading me to gird those loins and pray for the full armor of God on myself and my family.

It has been a tough week for my daughter and I.  My daughter went back to school.  She is young but is already dealing with a “frenemy”.  This child makes her feel bad one day and then the next day, they are buds.  The first week, my daughter was struggling with her and cried everyday the first week of school.  One day after school, my daughter three times try to engage with this frenemy and another friend.  She was told to leave or was flat-out ignored.  I was angry.  I really wanted to let loose on this child and her mother, but knew it would be ugly.   A few days later, my daughter catches a cold, then passes it to me.  Then our dog got badly hurt and  I thought I would need to put him down.  In dealing with the vet, I ended up missing the parent meeting for the sport my daughter was to start this Fall.  And lastly, I recommended a general contractor I used for my home for a project at work and it did not go well for the contractor or for my boss.  I felt caught in the middle because both sides were seething mad at each other. So as we dealt with high emotions and sickly bodies, I wanted to crawl in a hole and wait out the battle.

 The enemy looks to kill, steal and destroy our lives every day, especially if we know the Lord.  These things that happened to me aren’t as bad as what many encounter, but I felt like I was getting kicked in the stomach. Before all of these things were happening, I was praying for the full armor of God to be on myself and my family everyday.  At first, I felt like my prayers weren’t being answered.  However, even though my dog looked like he was on death’s door, I felt like he would make it.  I also knew, that my daughter was learning about life and difficult people.  I want to protect her, but if I handle everything for her, she can’t fend for herself without me.  But she can look to God and know that His hands are on every situation and He will never leave her lonely or abandoned.  We can rest in His might, not our own.  

Lesson Learner:  Be vigilant always and pray the full armor of God and a hedge of protection daily!

Prayer:  Dear Heavenly Father, I wholeheartedly pray Ephesians 6:10-18 over myself and my family. I pray that WE be, finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  I place the full armor of God, so that WE can take OUR stand against the devil’s schemes.  For OUR struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, WE may be able to stand OUR ground, and after WE have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around OUR waists, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with OUR feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, WE take up the shield of faith, with which WE can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  And WE will pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

It Doesn’t Have to be the Same

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I am doing a new thing: now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”  Isaiah 43:18-19

 

About fifteen years ago, a dear friend of mine told me about her new church.  I went for a visit and it was the first time I felt like I was a part of a church family.  So many wonderful experiences happened at this church.  I met my future husband there and were married by the pastor.  I participated in many church outreach programs.  I made wonderful friends and felt so loved.  But change happens…

 

One Sunday morning, about seven years ago, our pastor made an announcement.  He stood there, hand in hand with his wife and said they had been given a position to lead a new church congregation in Boston, Massachusetts.  He went on to say more things, but honestly, I don’t remember anything.  I was in shock.  I actually got up and left the sanctuary and began to cry.

 

I realized, I can’t be selfish now.  I had to pour my heart out into prayer for their new calling and for the new pastor and staff that would enter into this church.  I still felt stung, but knew this is no time to bail as many would and did.  My husband and I decided when the new pastor was chosen to give the process 6 months before we decided to stay committed to the church or go somewhere else.

 

Over the next month, we had potential pastors come in a give a sermons every Sunday.  We had an interim pastor overseeing the process too, since our original pastor and family had to move across country.  One Sunday, there was a man who came and I knew this is who will be our new pastor.  He was charismatic and friendly.  Sure enough, the decision was made to make him the new pastor.  He had a church already, down in another city about 30 miles south, and his church would merge with our church.  This is where our little church’s world turned upside down.

 

Let’s just say, things did not go as well as we hoped for.  A lot of changes were made, as we knew there would, but it was done with an iron fist and not with love.  Instead of a church merger, it was a church take over.  We made it to month 5 of 6 of our goal when we both said, I think we need to leave.   As for the church we left, it end up changing pastors again. It was truly a confusing time.  Why Lord did this happen?

 

We decided to seek a church that our old church had a good relationship with.  I set foot in the church six years ago and knew from day 1, this was our new church home.  About 3 years after our move to the new church, this pastor made an announcement.  He said, I have been asked by a neighboring church if I could become their new pastor.  He agreed and said we would be merging with them in about 6 months.  I could feel my heart sink and a lump in my throat.  

 

I felt all of these emotions well up.  Here were my thoughts, “Not again….Are you kidding me, I have to look for a new church?…That was such a horrible time and so many people were devastated?…Why Lord?”  I began to pray to help me understand.  Then I heard the Lord say, “It doesn’t have to be the same.”  I felt this immediate peace.  I knew again, I would need to pray my heart out during this transition.  I knew that if anyone could lead this merger, it could be our pastor.  He said, we will consider this process as if we were looking for a spouse.  Take steps as courtship, engagement and marriage.  We won’t call it a merger.

 

I realized, yes people would get mad and leave, there would be staff changes.  But I prayed, as did the entire church, that the transition would be smooth.  Honestly, to my surprise, the church remains!  It has been two years since the marriage and the church is going strong.

 

There were still people hurt by the original church take over.  Some people stopped going to church altogether.  Some staff aren’t even in ministry anymore.  I saw a couple at church that went to the original church.  He was a part of the decision to go with the pastor that didn’t end up working out.  He said, he still felt guilt for the decision.  He was so heart-broken how many people were hurt by the change.  I told him, you can free yourself from that burden because if the takeover didn’t happen, I would never have come to this church and have an even deeper relationship with God.  I said God can restore any bad situation. And we have the wonderful memories of the last church and I am so thankful that I experienced them.   I gave him a hug and he looked like he felt a sense of relief.  Thank God, it doesn’t have to be the same!

 

Lesson Learned:  Change is scary but expect God to still do an amazing work.

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, I realize change is inevitable and scary!  I thank you that you are our safe harbor and guide.  Anytime, I encounter change, may your hand be upon the situation.  Holy Spirit remind me to call on you when I feel unsure.  Even if situations do not work out, may we see your glory!  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Taking Chances even as an Introvert

“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” James 4:14

 

Have you ever seen a person you wanted to ask something to, but you feel like they will reject you?  Whether it was in my single days talking to a cute guy or even asking a question to a stranger, I wanted someone to do the asking for me.  I hated the idea of potential rejection.  Unfortunately, not taking the risk comes with something worse: regret.

 

When my daughter was a baby, I went grocery shopping.  This was the first time, I was using a grocery cart cover.  I had no idea how to put it on.  It came with these safety straps and hooks.  One seemed to need an engineering degree to attach it to the cart.  It is also difficult to attempt to put it on while holding a wiggly baby.  I noticed a woman with her baby who had the same grocery cart cover going into the store.  I wanted to ask for her help.  But as I approached her, I stopped and changed my mind.  She was very beautiful and appeared to already be at her pre-pregnancy weight.  She dressed nice, her hair and make -up were done. She fit the So. California mold.  However,  I looked like a hot mess and was trying to hurry the shopping trip because I could feel the “let down” was fast approaching.  (Nursing mamas, know this all too well.) Then, I thought I need help and she was my answer, so I am going to ask her regardless of what my notions were of her.

 

I approached her and asked if she could help me with the cart cover.  She ended up being so nice and helpful.  She showed me what to do and even put the cover on for me.  We walked into the store together, talked for a bit and then we exchanged phone numbers because we found out we lived less than 2 miles from each other. We went on our separate ways.

 

Then, I thought, am I ever going to talk to her again?  I thought maybe she was just nice but didn’t care to get to know me.  I waited to see if she would call first.  A few weeks went by, so I decided to call her first.  I was so nervous, because this would be the risk, I hated taking because I didn’t want to be rejected.  But I kept feeling the Lord tell me it was okay to call her.  So I did.  She remembered me right away and we arranged a little meet up with our daughters.  That was 8 years ago and we still are friends!  Whenever we meet each other’s mutual friends, they always ask where we know each other.  When I say we met at the supermarket, it always makes people laugh because it is so random.  

 

For me being an introvert, this was a huge step to reach out first to someone.  I think many of us have difficulty dealing with rejection and we just don’t want to try.  If I didn’t approach her, I would have never had her friendship.  I can’t imagine not ever knowing this wonderful person and am so thankful for her.  I know the Lord wants us to never feel unworthy of talking to people.  Also having the confidence that even if they did not want to get to know us, then it probably saved us a lot of grief!  

 

So now, when I see a person with a cute haircut or clothes, etc.  I just go over and compliment them and start a conversation.  I still get a little nervous, but 9 times out of 10, it usually is worth the risk.

 

Lesson Learned:  It is better to risk, whether the outcome is good or bad, than regret not taking a chance for life.

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me the confidence to take risks in this life.  I pray that if the risk did not turn out well, that you would redeem it and fill it with your promises.  Thank you for the amazing people I know in my life and for those I haven’t met yet.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”