26 SEP 2017

3 Things I've Learned About Jerks

Strawberry milk. It’s what she wanted, so it’s what she got. I’m her Grandmama, so I have dibs on these things. This little ray of Sunshine and I were visiting favorite stores a couple weeks before her fourth birthday as she sipped milk from the small plastic milk bottle in the backseat and I sipped tea in the front.

Suddenly she exclaimed, “Gah!”

“What’s the matter, Boo?” I queried in mild alarm.

“This bottle grabbed my lip and sucked on it!”

I turned to see a half circle impression rising on her top lip. “Ouch!” I said, “I’m sorry, Love!”

“Grandmama, why do some bottles do that?” she asked with annoyance blended with hurt.

Now, I could have gone all Granddad on her and said, “Well, when the liquid from the bottle is consumed without replacing said liquid with an equal amount of air, a vacuum is formed, thus forming suction on your lip.”

Alas, it was the end of the day and this tired woman shrugged a, “I don’t know.”

Apparently dissatisfied with the vague answer, Lil Boo glared at the unsuspecting milk bottle, narrowed her eyes and said in a deep voice, “It’s because they’re jerks….”

You would have thought that little jerk of a bottle was a real person who had just popped her in the lip!

A few months ago, someone really hurt my heart. They rolled right up to it with their bulldozer and rolled back and forth until I was flattened. Hurt and angry. I guess, like Boo, I began to think some bottles are just jerks. I poured my hurting heart out to a close friend who said with so much clarity that it shook me back to reality: “You know it’s not her, right? The enemy is behind this.”

Did I know it? Yes, technically, but I’d forgotten in the midst of the very personal pain that my battle is never with the bottle, the vessel. I do not war against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces (Ephesians 6:12).

There are three things this truth shook back into focus for me:

1. I live in a war. Too often I fail to recognize this battlefield and behave accordingly. Like the time I got hit in the side of the head with a basketball while sitting in the bleachers: If I had been playing the game and aware, I would’ve caught and returned the ball instead of being hurt by it.

2. I’m not at war with people. Yes, people hurt you, fail you, betray you, but ultimately, people are sadly being used as pawns in the war. They may not even realize! And whether they realize or not, we can look past them, fight the true enemy and love the hurting vessel who delivered the blow.\

3. I have authority over my heart. I decide if I am going to allow a person who isn’t whole to steal my wholeness, my joy or my identity. That vessel may never change so I have to decide for myself exactly who I am and what I’m going to do with their attitudes toward me. It’s up to me.

The bottle is really not the jerk. No matter how personal the pain gets, we can look past the vessel to grow up in ways that are hard, but oh-so-worth it.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12