Why pitch a fit any old afternoon when you can melt down on a national holiday in a house full relatives and expectations?
Like all roads to holidays-gone-bad, this particular Thanksgiving was paved with good intentions. We prepared for togetherness and community. I prayed for gratitude and forgiveness. Unfortunately old scars and emotional baggage left us all hungry for things that weren’t on the menu that year.
Technically I was the hostess; the festivities were at my house. But I was also in the minority, an in-law speedbump in the road to a good time. As everyone came with desserts, sides, and his own agenda, I simmered with arguments of justice and etiquette. Some things were said that shouldn’t have been, and more things were not said that should have been.
We don’t have time for details here, but let’s be clear: I was right and they were wrong.*
The last straw fell when an unannounced dog ran into the house and into my dog, who was frankly a little put out. And that’s when I stepped out. For four hours.
This is what I was forgetting—that the Father is deeply, personally for me. I can trust Him with my needs, and I can trust Him with the needs of others. And when I invite Him into my heart, into the day, into the space, it’s for my freedom, which liberates me to love others well.
(I don’t make this stuff up. Check out biblical truths, starting with the ongoing “This Is Us” sermon series.)
That Thanksgiving day, I didn’t feel free at all. I was trapped in needy desperation, stuck in a mess I only made messier. After wandering the neighborhood for a solid afternoon, I snuck back into the house and found an empty room (mine was taken). I felt utterly overlooked, abandoned, and alone. And like a modern-day Hagar with first-world problems, I cried my eyes out because fancy napkins had been given more consideration than I had.
God answered my mess with a message of grace that melted my hard heart. I see you.
(Genesis 16: The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert, and he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” … She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me. … ”)
Doesn’t this same God know my name, know what I’m a slave to? Doesn’t He want to comfort me, want to free me?
Essentially I want to matter. And I couldn’t matter more than I matter to the King.
Truly consoled, I’d like to say I bounded out of the room to serve up leftovers, hugs, and happy endings. But real life stories with real life people are hardly that tidy. Nevertheless a lot has been healed, redeemed, and made beautiful.
But that’s the past. The important thing now is the present and future—that I start living known, loved, and free, loving others well and letting them know how very much they matter.
*Yes, I know God’s Word has some things to say about loving others versus being right. Indeed this recent sermon explores how being “us” is better than being right.
I say, baby steps.
Written by an unnamed member of Pulpit Rock