I’ve been battling my hormones and emotions all week. Once a month they stand up and try to take charge of my brain and sometimes I become a slave to my judgments and irritations. No, I don’t have to listen to them, but all too often, I do. So many of us think, “well, that’s just my personality“, or “I can’t help it, I have no control over it”. While it is true that we can’t control hormones or emotions, but we can chose HOW we react to them. And, I’m not inferring that what I’m suggesting is easy by any means either!
When I arrived at the gym this morning there was a family that went in with me . It’s an apartment gym so it’s just big enough to suit it’s purpose. There was a mom, dad, grandma and 2 little girls. Of course my first thought is to tell them about the rules that are posted in plain sight, in large lettering. Rule one being, no kids under 14 allowed. The girls are not even close to 10 year olds.
Slightly irritated, I took my rain boots off and exchanged them for my walking shoes, took off my hat, hung my coat, wiped down the treadmill, set up my sweat towel, water, phone, tablet (to watch a sermon) and got on the treadmill. Then it hit me…..I left my headset at home. Grrr! Not wanting to pack up and unpack again or leave my stuff out around the kids, I decided to suck it up and do my time. I couldn’t imagine they’d be there the whole workout, so I’d just listen without my headset when they left.
By then, the parents (still wearing their coats) had moved from elliptical to treadmill to bike. Back and forth they went from machine to machine while the grandma watched the girls play on the treadmill beside me. With nothing to block out the distractions, out of the corner of my eye I watched the girls play with the settings and try to stop the belt movement with their feet. It was all I could do not to reprimand them and tell them to get off before they got hurt or ruined the machine. I tried looking out the window the opposite way, but I kept finding my thoughts on them and how I “never would’ve let my son do that!”. The grandma seemed to be encouraging them. One of the girls kept demanding candy, jumping on and off the treadmill, while the smallest just kept walking and playing with the toggles.
I continued to judge them even after they finally left. Even though I succeeded in not saying anything, I still wasn’t being loving like Jesus would’ve wanted me to be. I didn’t act nasty to them by any means either. They were none the wiser to the judgmental thoughts in my head, but that didn’t make it ok. My thoughts now drift to a time where I did let my hormones take over my mouth in a similar situation.
2 years ago, we’d just moved to Oregon and I was at the store trying to find an item that I was having trouble locating. It wasn’t where it would’ve made sense to keep it. Already aggravated, I combed the aisles searching for my item. All of the sudden a 3 or 4 year old came barreling down the aisle and slammed his cart into me. He then proceeded to continue ramming me with it. The mom came around ignored me , grabbed the cart from him and didn’t say anything to correct him. My big mouth opened up and venom spewed everywhere. “Hey! That’s not ok! You may not be rude like that! No, no!!” and to the mom “Control your kid!!” The mom snarkily replied, “he’s little it’s not his fault, don’t talk to him like that”. Instantly, my face turned red and I went into judge mode. “My son never would’ve done something like that. I would’ve spanked his butt! You should be paying better attention to your child”. The mom snapped back “he didn’t mean anything by it, he doesn’t know any better! Leave him alone.” Now, I’ve set a runaway train in motion, “that’s because you don’t correct him!”. We continued to bicker for a bit.
I’m definitely NOT the perfect parent with the perfect child that I was making us out to be. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing with my son. I got it wrong more times than right. The truth is, I didn’t spank him often because I could never catch him. Half the time it was a fiasco. Me chasing him, him laughing, me finally catching him, throwing his flailing body to the floor as I sat on him to stop the insanity of his swinging arms. He could be a real punk at times and I was terrible at knowing how to deal with it. I was not supermom despite my intense love for him and my wishes to be supermom. After I realized what I’d done, I tracked her down to apologize, but the damage was already done. She was even nastier.
As followers of Christ, we are the only Jesus some will ever experience. When we blow our testimony like that, it’s hard to repair it without making God look bad. It makes people think that Christians have a “holier-than-thou” viewpoint. Like we are above wrongdoing as we sit on our high-horse thinking we are better than “sinners”. It gives Christ followers a bad rap when we bring up everyone else’s faults, as if we have none. We are His ambassadors and sometimes we only get one shot to show love.
This is precisely what my morning devotional was about today. In John chapter 8, we are introduced to a woman who has been caught red-handed in adultery. Jesus was in the temple teaching when they marched her in. She was probably terrified of what her future held. I imagine her hair and clothes were quite disheveled as they shoved her into the middle of the crowd and started throwing verbal darts. “The law of Moses tells us to stone her to death for her wretched act!!” The indignant Pharisees thought they had Jesus trapped this time. But, what did He do? He calmly bent down and started doodling in the dirt. As He continued His impromptu art they continued to bombard Him, demanding an answer. Jesus stood up, probably dusted His fingers off and said, “The one among you who has no sin….he’s the one who should throw the first stone”. Then He bent down and went back to His drawing.
I’ll bet you could’ve heard an ant crawl across the floor in that place for the next few moments. Slowly, one by one, from oldest to youngest, the crowd dispersed until it was just the woman and Jesus. “What happened to your accusers? Did anyone condemn you?” He asked her. She humbly replied “No one did, Lord”. Then, the One who was worthy to….the One who could’ve actually, rightfully thrown the stones said “I don’t condemn you either. Go, and sin no more”.
Instead of being rude to the lady at the store, I should’ve let her know she wasn’t alone. I should’ve encouraged her and reminded her that this was just a phase. I should’ve told her that he was just being a typical little boy. But I let my temper decide what to tell her and she might have really just needed some understanding. I’m so thankful my mouth stayed shut this morning or it could’ve been another really messy situation. But, God is growing me and thankfully He’s not finished with me yet. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to butt out and mind my own business instead of judging other people’s parenting. At least it’s a step in right direction. You really do catch more flies with honey.