Spoiled. Lazy. Controlling. Selfish. Bossy. Unforgiving. Uncaring. Self-centered. Greedy.
This is the ugly side of me.
The side I wish no one ever had to see.
Unfortunately, there are those who do see this side of me and they are the ones who are closest to me.
Primarily the ones who call me “wife” and “mother”.
Once, while listening to the radio program Focus on the Family, I heard a guest say something that was so true I was surprised I hadn’t heard it sooner. The guest said, ” I never knew how selfish I was until I got married and I never knew how angry I was until I became a parent.” Wow. I couldn’t believe someone could so simply and accurately identify the biggest challenge I had encountered in marriage and parenting. I could believe even less that I was not the only one fighting this fight against selfishness and control. I never attended premarital or parenting classes but if these topics had come up in either then they would have been well worth attending.
There were many times early in my marriage when I thought my husband had made the wrong decision by choosing me to be his bride. There was a certain amount of baggage that I brought into the relationship but I truly thought I would be the picture perfect, loving, adoring, self-sacrificing wife he deserved. Needless to say, I fell short. Then, once I became a mother I foolishly thought, “Now I have it all together. I’m going to be supermom.” Again, I set myself up for failure and disappointment. Big time. It’s one thing when you let down someone who has chosen to be with you no matter what, but it’s another thing when you let down someone who has been chosen as a gift for you from God. This was my state of mind when I heard those words come through over the radio. Then came the realization that if the women on the radio was able to overcome her own selfishness and anger then there was no reason that, with the help of the same Holy Spirit, I could not also overcome.
I believe that for every ugly thing we allow to grow in the garden of our hearts a beautiful thing is being choked to death. Love for instance, can only grow where hate is weeded out. Self-sacrifice for selfishness. Freedom for control. Giving for greed. Something must die for something else to live. We determine which it will be.
We all have struggles in life and we overcome them in different ways. I believe God designed my marriage to be a safe place where he can make my sins known and help me to overcome them. I believe this is a way he works for many people but not for all people. Some people are confronted with their ugliness when they enter a difficult workplace, a new school environment, during a financial challenge or even during a season of great success and accomplishment. God knows what’s growing and how to weed it out completely. We only need to trust him to do the gardening. I am a horrible gardener. When I go in to garden, I don’t have the patience to separate the good from the bad. I rip it all out and try to start from scratch. If I did that kind of gardening in my heart I would end up uprooting all the good that God was doing while hacking away all the bad leaving it a bleeding mess that ultimately only He could repair. My heart, my marriage and my relationship with my daughter, are each too valuable for me to be impatient with. I have to trust God to do the work. I have to give him full access and permission to do what needs to be done to turn the ugly into beauty.
Knowing that he’s the one at work, gives me so much hope. Because I know that when he does a job, he does it right. He’s making me into a better wife. He’s making me into a better mother. So now when he makes me aware of my faults, like selfishness and control I don’t have to feel shame or guilt. Instead I seek forgiveness from my loved ones, I repent of my sin and hand him the gardening tools.
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