“‘If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!’ We smile as we read the wall plaque in the novelty store. But our smile quickly turns to a frown if truly ‘Mama ain’t happy.’ This is because the wife and mother in a family often ‘sets the tone’ in the home. The ‘tone’ God wants her to set is one of joy, optimism, and a delight in the Lord and in her family. If your family were called upon to describe you, what would they say?”
~Martha Peace, The Excellent Wife
To answer the question, my family would probably say that I’ve been a grouch the last two weeks. An all-out, easily irritated, impatient grouch.
I could enumerate several reasons why the last two weeks have been long, frustrating, and discouraging for me. And you would probably understand and sympathize. The hard truth is that I’m a sinner. Who screws up royally.
“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.“
~Luke 6:45 (NIV – emphasis mine)
This is a truth that convicted me deeply the first time I read CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity. In that book, he talks about things we say and do in anger, or out of frustration. We apologize to those we’ve hurt, saying “I was angry when I said it – I didn’t really mean it.” He makes an interesting point when he asks whether a response given in the height of emotion is not a better indicator of what is truly in our hearts than the response given when we take the time to think rationally before we reply.
In other words, what is truly in our hearts is what will come out if we are left to our own devices. Does that hurt you as much as it hurt me?
I see the evidence of chaos, confusion, and gloominess in my house when “Mama ain’t happy”. And I hate it.
Whether I like it or not, whether I know it or not, I am Jesus to my kids right now. What they see in me is what they will see in Jesus as they grow up. There is no way around that. When “Mama ain’t happy,” they see a Jesus who is too easily irritated by insignificant things – like spilled milk. When “Mama ain’t happy,” they see a Jesus whose fuse is short, who is flat-out selfish & grouchy.
This is not good. (So says Captain Obvious.)
I have been a poor reflection of Christ to my children, and my husband, these past two weeks. I have been lazy. I have been irritable. I have been selfish. I have been impatient. I have been angry. I have blamed, complained, thrown pity parties, and ignored the people I claim to love the most.
I have sinned. Against God and against my family.
I most certainly want the tone in my house to be one of “…joy, optimism, and delight in the Lord….” A couple of days ago, I repented before God. While my kids didn’t magically start behaving better, and my husband is still imperfect, I have sensed change beginning in my heart. Again.
I’ve been down this road so many times before. All I can say is that I am so thankful that the God I serve is full of mercy, grace, and agape love. He takes me as I am, and molds me gently into a creature a little more like Himself.
My parents, as well as my MIL, are always quick to remind me that God will fill in the gaping holes where I fall so short in training my kids in the way they should go. And it’s so true.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
~1 John 1:9 (NIV)
Even when I am unfaithful and unjust – Jesus Christ is not. He meets me in the midst of my sin, my rebellion, my self-centeredness, and He cleanses me. All I have to do is look at His face and ask. Just ask…how hard is that?
Then, I have to “go and sin no more”. How the heck do I do that? It’s one thing to confess and receive forgiveness. It’s quite another to repent, and begin walking in a different direction than you were before. That means I have to make different decisions. React to circumstances differently. Do everything differently. Jesus calls us to perfection: “Be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5:48 – NIV). So, what do I need to do to make perfection happen?
“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.“
~1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
Read that bold sentence again. And again.
“…HE WILL DO IT.” I don’t have to do anything. I keep surrendering, keep looking to Jesus, keep praying, keep confessing, keep repenting – as much as it takes – and then just leave it at the foot of the Cross for Him to deal with. Because He will. He will change me! He will do the work needed in me – as long as I am open to Him.
So, when “Mama ain’t happy”, Mama needs to turn to Daddy. Her Abba Father, the “God of peace”, who longs to carry her, lead her, “set her apart”, and equip her to fulfill His call to perfection and intimacy.
He is faithful. And He will do it.
I am so glad!