There is a lifetime of maturing into truths I find myself being able to articulate.
This is not an excuse or a pass, only a reality. Stacey will tell you, without much prodding, that I often do not extend to her the grace I tell others about. I was just on a walk; rehearsing a talk I’ll give this evening. It was about learning to not appeal to the flesh but instead wooing out another’s new nature.
Those are beautiful words, filled with nearly endless hope…Then why do I so often not know how to approach my wife with such truth? Maybe it’s in part that she doesn’t play fair when it gets hard. She can get mean and rough when I’m trying to woo her new nature. That’s the problem with living out this grace. This stuff is messy. Because no one, when they need their new nature wooed out, is all that polite in receiving it. They’re hurting. They’re broken. They’re angry, or frightened and they don’t play fair. And their stuff enflames me. A lot. It exposes my fear of not being enough. So I can get ugly myself and violate the very truths I long to bless with. It befuddles me. Nothing quite exasperates and beats me down than repeated attempts to want to extend grace to another’s pain, only to realize they don’t necessarily appreciate the full scope of my incredible “wisdom and goodness”. I’m getting attacked, or not appreciated. And this awakens all my shame issues, hidden behind a door of trust, begging to come out.
Before I know it, I’m resorting to the old methodologies of unwittingly appealing to their flesh. I become louder. I resort to winning only because I have better words. I blame or self-defend. I basically give them the message of “why can’t you, why don’t you, when will you?” Within moments I’ve become the vice-mayor of the Room of Good Intentions. How can this be?
The one who trusts these truths like he trusts his next breath, defaulting to petty harshness and self-protective attack, at game time? Here’s great hope: that you’ve failed again does not mean these truths have failed you. It only reveals how much we need the truths you so long to give. The fact that you want this way of life with your spouse, children or friends is proof of Christ’s wonder working in you. From here, it is only a matter of time…and enduring the clumsiness of figuring out the art of wooing another’s new nature. Hey, if loving were easy, tree slugs would open Hallmark stores.