45The 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.It tells me that eventually an evil heart will overflow into a deceitful mouth...and deceitful ways. And the harsh reality is also that people see it even when you think you are hiding it. They see the underlying tones, the clenched jaw, the heavy sighs. They see the lack of concern, the lack of commitment, the joking-yet not joking tone. And worse...some people see the ugliest side of it....the gossip, the slander, the complaining bitter spirit. And that, my friends, is where I am. I am to the place of being a person I dislike.
I guess it really began when we moved here. I hate to say it but full time ministry does not always bring out the best in people. There is this fine line we walk between being so utterly undeserving of ANY good gift the Lord provides and on the flip side feeling completely dependent on the Lord for provision in a way that makes us feel He MUST provide. (for example: Lord, You brought us here...now DO this...or DO that for us.) I know, that is ugly. Sorry. I don't know how it happens. I mean, I feel so desperately in awe that the Lord does anything on our behalf and yet so utterly bitter when He doesn't. Does that even make sense? You see, sadly, since coming here I have seen this side of missionaries. This side that says..."God isn't doing what He promised. This is too hard. We deserve MORE." And before you know it...you are one of them. Don't get me wrong...missionaries whether they live in Africa or Arkansas are laying down their lives for the Lord. They typically gave up ties to family, friends, jobs, churches, hometowns, houses, etc in the name of following God. But when God gets you to that point, He is just beginning to show you...the mission is YOU...not those you came to "save." He means to mold this ugly lump of clay into something that is so empty of itself that it can't even stand upright without the Potter's hands. But oh how I do not wish to be emptied. I do not wish to be an ugly, dependent lump. And yet I have nothing. I have absolutely NOTHING good to offer the Potter. And He already knew that. And He meant to use me anyway. He called me right from nothingness into a relationship with Him. And I constantly want to be WORTHY and I cannot be. I NEVER EVER will be. I mean, I lay my filthy rags on the alter and expect Him...and others to be impressed.
6 All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
You see, pretty quickly the filthy heart begins seeping out...overflowing out by way of a filthy mouth. A mouth full of gossip and bitterness and complaining. I mean, I am utterly disgusted at the amount of complaining I do. The Lord has shone this holy pure spotlight onto this area of my life. He has shown me that my mouth cannot be trusted...at all. And it makes me see how as a woman I really am the weaker vessel. I was knit together with this wonderful complexity of emotions and the scourge of feminism came in and fed me the lie that I could spill out those emotions on everyone who passed by...my friends, my family, my dear husband. It was a feeling that I had the right, even the NEED, to "vent" those emotions onto someone other than the Lord. I could call a friend and tell her how mad my husband made me or how frustrating my kids were. Or how another friend had hurt or offended me. Or worse...how this friend had done absolutely nothing wrong...but just that she was overweight, or had a bad outfit on, or said a really dumb thing! Who was I fooling? The ugly, dumb fool was ME! And I knew it. That's why it felt so much better to blame it on someone else. Surely THEY were uglier, fatter, less spiritual than ME. UGH. That is so ugly. I can barely stand to write it. Filthy rags.
And at the heart of the complaining is this thought: "Lord, you have failed me. You have not done what You said. You do not give me what I feel I need." I mean, seriously, isn't that the CORE of complaining? I mean complaining about ANYTHING. Believe me, I have TRIED to wrangle it into a nice neat justification. "I need to 'vent' to my friends about how hard it is to be a wife, a mother, a homeschooler, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a missionary." Right? We need to have others listen and comfort us so that we can cope. Right? No...wrong...very very wrong. I mean, it is even wrong for me to complain or gossip to my husband. To my best friend. To my sister. My closest friend. There is no one but Jesus with whom I can take my complaints. I mean, share a burden or a hurt with a friend or a spouse....sure. But complain? No. I have no right. My complaints only bring sin onto the listener. They are challenged not to complain with me. They are challenged not to think less of me...or my spouse...or my children. And I have come to this HORRIBLE realization. Brace yourselves...this may challenge you to the core. Very few conversations I have with another woman in a day don't include complaining or gossip. And for this reason, I have come to see...I need to be having less conversations with other women. Seriously. This home is my ministry. My children and my husband need all of me. I have precious little time to be wrapped up in another woman's life. I mean, ministry is NOT being on the phone talking about how hard our lives are. Or how imperfect our husbands are. Yuck. There is nothing holy there therefore it has no usefulness for me. Now, don't hear me wrong. I have some dear friends with whom I would be lost without their friendship. When we are together I am lifted up. I am reminded of God. Our laughter is honest and at no one else's expense. Our tears are over sorrows and not self pity. I could not walk this life without the joy of friends. But, I cannot be wrapped up in those friends' lives on a daily basis...and they don't expect me to be. We share a friendship that is something to be savored at sweet, short times. But the whole of my life is to be true to those within these walls...to my Lord...to His service. And He has provided me these walls to protect me. To keep me from adopting the world's lies. Does any of that make sense? I mean, none of this may apply to you...or anyone else. I can't be responsible for that. Other women may have better control over their mouths because their hearts are healthier than mine. But, I see that I am not one of them.
So, let me say this. I have hope. God tells me this:
Ezekiel 11:19 (New International Version)
19 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.
This is my prayer. I want a heart of flesh. I want a heart that is tender to others. I want a mouth that can be trusted. And honestly, I want to talk A LOT less.
Proverbs 10:19 (New Living Translation)
19 Too much talk leads to sin.
Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.
So, this is where God has me. Oh how I long to be a different woman when I read this again in a year....or a week! God, change me! ~M.