The Absurd and Amazing Adventures of Cafe Girl: Me and My House

September 10, 2009

Me and My House

In these recent months the phrase, "but as for me and my house" has been running around in my head. I've been pondering what principles I stand by that speak to who I am and who I'm made to be. Principles such as, "No matter what extend grace," or, one that's really hard to practice, "Believe the best of people." Other principles I stand by are, "Always be honest" and, "Tell the truth, if it's a hard truth, do so lovingly."

I've had a number of people look at me like I'm insane. Believe the best of a person who was rude to you without provocation? Extend grace to someone who has called you names? Why be the bigger person when no one else is playing by those rules?

And yes, that part is true. It's incredibly painful to extend grace and have that blatantly rejected. It's incredibly difficult for me to speak kindly, or even neutrally of those who I believe have offended me. More often than not, I fail to walk out my principles well, or sometimes, at all. It's much more satisfying to think, "No one else is trying to be a better person, why should I?"

But what I do know is that if I don't at least try to practice these principles my heart slowly hardens and I move towards bitterness. That's just not how I want to live my life. The rest of the world can do what they want, but as for me and my house...

Tonight, I finally looked up the scripture reference. It comes from the book of Joshua. Joshua gathers the tribes of Israel together, reminds them of God's faithfulness to them, commands them to throw away the idols of their forefathers and then basically gives the people of Israel an ultimatum, "But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

Something in me went, "Oh. I get it now."

These "principles" I have chosen to stand by don't come from the goodness of my heart, or the greatness of my person. It comes from choosing to serve the Lord. Because I serve the Lord, I will do what He commands. What I've been labelling as "principles," are actually commandments. It's pretty clear what God asks of us in relation to the people around us: Love one another, love our neighbors, love our enemies. And if we love people we are to walk out what love is -- patient, kind, unenvious, not boastful, not proud, polite, not self-seeking, not easily angered, keeping no record of wrongs, rejoicing with truth. We are to protect, trust, hope, persevere.

It's a fine balance between loving others well and being a complete doormat and allowing yourself to be treated badly. As a people-pleaser somewhat desperate to be liked and thought well of, I struggle with that balance every day. I try to remember that God has stated "love your neighbor as you love yourself" implying that I am to treat myself with patience kindness, protection and hope. But no matter how hard it is to find that balance, I'm pretty sure I'm not just to solely love myself.

I've seen this verse hanging over doorways in houses in plaques with gentle cursive, or cross-stitched on pillows. In this light, the verse seems light hearted and full of joyful hope. Yes! We will serve the Lord, and it will be GREAT!

These days, I can hear the grim determination of Joshua. No matter what. No matter what other gods you choose to serve, I will serve the Lord. I will not serve money, comfort, success, the approval of others, not even my own good. I will serve the Lord.

Whenever I'm crying about how unfair it is to have to keep no record of wrongs, to be unenvious, to continue to hope for the best in people when all reality points to complete disappointment, I remember that I'm not alone in this. The story of God and his relationship with all creation plays out this very heart-breaking pain. God is always gracious even though the very creation He made rejects him on a daily basis. He continues to see the best in his children even though, as a people, I would consider us pretty disappointing. He is the essence of Love. He can be no other way. Serving a God that cannot help but love us, how can I choose not to love others, my neighbors, and even my enemies?


mjabate said...

There are some pretty profound insights in this post. For example, you wrote the following: "God is always gracious even though the very creation He made rejects him on a daily basis. He continues to see the best in his children even though, as a people, I would consider us pretty disappointing."

The wheels inside of my brain turn in contemplation of the above quote and the general gist of your post. Keep writing.

Elizabeth said...

Love, love, love this post.
So good to hear your determination and hope.

Thinking of you from afar.