When Ellia was just a newborn, I had one of those dreams where you wake up and reality is permanently altered. In my dream, I was super mad at Brett. Who knows what he was doing. All I know is that I was about to snap and finally, I reached out to hit Brett, fists flying at him as hard as I could. However, every time I tried to hit Brett, I somehow hit Ellia, who was resting in his arms. This made me more upset and I tried harder to nail him, but every time, I missed and my angry fists caught my helpless baby girl instead. I knew God was speaking to me. I've known sin separates. I've known it injures-- tearing, dividing, harming, and always doing violence to light and truth. But I had to learn that my issues, my choice to love or not to love now came with a bigger price tag. My choice to encourage or tear down, to love or hate, to act out of instant gratification or self-denial would now affect another generation.
Having kids is too small a reason to pull yourself together. But, what the dream revealed is the far-reaching effects of my willingness to agree with God or give him the finger. When I say no to loving Brett, Ellia and Olive feel it. When I reject the grace God extends, I know Ellia notices. My accountability partner is now three feet tall and says things like, "Mommy? Why did you shut the door really hard? Are you sad?"
Sometimes I love irritability. I know it so well that I treat it like an old pal, welcoming it with open arms and offering it a choice place to sit. I value my right to be crabby over my call to love. I cling to moody behavior as if it is life-giving, completely blind to the fact that it sucks the ever-loving breath out of my body.
For me, obedience can be painful. There are days when I cry because I have to love. The battle is still real. I choose obedience because I know in it, I am living out of my real self-- the part of me that wants what God wants and hates what God hates, the part of me that knows I was created for more than narcissistic apathy. I have to peel back the surface desire of the moment, the part of me that wants to consume, use, and manipulate. When I do this, I can hear God reminding me that I don't like to hurt people-- that bearing an image has an impact on what I say and what I do. In listening to this reality, I can recognize the profound worth in others and take God's affection for others instead of having to conjure up my own.
It's in this place, I can teach Ellia and Olive that the more you know God, the more you rely on grace. And there's far less carnage to speak of.
So, I think, in light of this, I need to go apologize to my husband.