Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Do Hard Things

I stare at my five-year-old for the eight-millionth time as she offers the eight-millionth excuse for why she is disobeying in some fashion. (And there are many fashions: sassing, bickering, teasing--your typical laundry list of five-year-old depravity) And I ask her The Question.

"What is your job?"

She gets it right on the first try. (I must have pounded it into her head.) Without hesitation:
"Do hard things."
"Righto," I respond. "So...why are you bickering? Again???"
"Because (insert current justification for current indignation)."
"You can't bicker just because he (did whatever he did)," I say with eyebrow raised for appropriate emphasis.
"But he--"
"Yep," I cut her off. "He did. He was wrong. You still have to treat him right."
She splutters, "But that's hard."

I just stare at her.
Ah, yes. There is is. She has just connected the dots.
"Helen, the right thing is often the hard thing. That's just how God's world works."
She nods. She's not happy, but she gets it. We've had this conversation too many times. Yes, she gets it.
Sadly, sometimes she gets it better than I do.

Destroying things is easier than building things. (Katniss)

Such a stunning observation.
Simple, bordering on simplistic.
Yet so epically true of the human condition.

Here we are, created in God's image, made to be image-bearers of the Creator.
Made to build.
Yet, even in my redeemed state, I am more often an image-bearer of the Destroyer,
because, frankly, that's easier.
I don't even have to think about it.
I can destroy in my sleep.
I can destroy with one hand tied behind my back.

Building, though.That's a whole other story.
Building requires grit because it must oppose the forces of time, gravity, entropy.
Building makes us sweat because it is always laborious, often tedious.
Building is hard.
And being image-bearers of the Creator is hard.

And I am like my five-year-old. I can see where I have chosen the easy road of destruction over the hard road of construction, even just in the last week or so.

For what more important things are Christians called to build than relationships?
What harder things are there to build than relationships?
They require so much work.
And they require sweat equity which few of us are willing to invest,
just because it's painful.
And when relationships hit a snag, we must choose.

Will I destroy?
Will I close my spirit like so many Maxwell Smart gates, up, down, across, CLANG!
Will I let a veil drop behind my eyes?
Will I hear--but stop listening?
Will  I see--but stop looking?
It is much easier to lock down my heart and shut down my spirit and walk away.
That will destroy the relationship.
But it's, sigh, so easy.

Or will I build?
When I am the offended, will I have the guts to confront and the meekness to do it gently?
Will I cool off and take the time to make a humble appeal rather than a stormy condemnation?
Am I willing to make the investment and trust the strength of the friendship and say, "You hurt me"?
When I am the offender, will I be humble enough to quickly acknowledge my fault?
Will I be contrite enough to offer a no-excuses apology and mean it with my whole heart?
(Let me pause here to discuss apologies. When you are offended, there is nothing worse than getting a simpering, "I'm sorry if I might have offended you." Sorry is for sympathy, as in:
I'm sorry you lost your loved one.
I'm sorry you lost your job.
I'm sorry you lost your leg.
I was wrong is how to acknowledge fault, as in:
I was wrong for offending you. Please forgive me.
I'm sorry is a big no-no in our house; even my five-year-old gets that.)
Will I take full, broken-hearted ownership of the offense I caused?
This is what relationship-building looks like
if it is built with excellence,
if it is built to last.

Destroying things is easier than building things.
But destroying things brings death and ashes, whereas building things brings life and joy.

Lord, help me to build.
Help me to do hard things.

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