Two rather unpleasant things have come to my attention lately. One has to do with bruises, and this revelation came through my husband. The other has to do with Facebook, and this revelation came through my daughter. After explaining, I bet you can relate to one or both of these unpleasant realizations.
Recently, I’ve noticed that I always have bruised knees. I kept trying to think what I did to acquire these bruises. Then, I remembered that I am a pre-k teacher and am always on my knees setting up a learning center or reading a story or cleaning up an accident. The latest bruise is from a dump truck that came flying down the hill at me when I was tying someone’s shoe. I used to be proud of my bruises because I thought it meant that I was tough (and I rarely have cool, discolored bruises because I don’t do things that could possibly cause bodily harm because I am a chicken!) I don’t bruise easily, so when I do have a bruise, it must mean something painful happened. Now, I’m not so proud of bruises because I am more aware now that they contrast far to noticeably against my year-round glowing white skin… My sister, Jessica, does bruise easily. She actually has huge bruises most of the time. The funny thing is, she doesn’t know where most of them come from! She thinks maybe from cutting corners to quickly and running into the counter or just chasing around her five kiddos. J (Love you, Jess!)
Physically, I don’t bruise easily. Emotionally, I bruise wayyyyyy too easily. The other night, Patrick and I were talking about something (I don’t even remember the topic), and he said something that put me a little “off.” I honestly have no clue what it was, but whatever it was, it offended me. So from that second, my entire demeanor changed. I stopped contributing to the conversation. I started giving flat, one-word answers. He looked up at me, and said, “So, that offended you??” As soon as he said it, I tried to act like I didn’t have a bad attitude, but truthfully, yes, the minor statement that he said (that obviously wasn’t that important because I can’t even tell you the topic of the conversation!) offended me. This small incident showed me that I am too easily offended. Being easily offended is a sign of pride because it shows that my attitude was along the lines of, “How dare he say that to me in that way? I’m offended now, and I’ll show him. I’ll start pouting! Hmmph!” Wow, how many preschoolers live in my home??? I don’t want to be easily offended by people, but many times, I am. I get my feelings hurt too easily and my body language changes immediately. (I know my parents have seen lots of this in my teen years… Dad, can you testify to this?? J) So this “emotional bruising” was the first unpleasant thing that has resurfaced recently.
The second unpleasant realization came when Riley Grace was taking a bath the other night. I was in the bathroom and had picked up my phone to check either Facebook or my email while she was playing the tub. She was talking to me the whole time about the game she was playing with her bath puppets and I was responding to her while still focused on my phone. Finally, she said, “Mama, stop looking at your phone. Look at me!” I was immediately convicted. I do NOT want her memories of her mama to be of me glued to a screen instead of looking her in the face and giving her my attention. I want to give my attention to the important relationships in my life, not my email or my Facebook “friends,” all of which can wait until Riley Grace is in bed. I don’t want her to remember or learn this behavior about me, and I certainly don’t want her to learn this behavior from me. When she’s old enough to have a phone, I know as a mom, I’m not going to want her to be on her phone 24/7, looking at her phone while she’s responding to me about something. I’m going to want her full attention. I don’t want her to be disrespectful. I don’t want her to be distracted. I don’t want her to be rude. But if I am glued to my phone and act those ways toward her because I think, “She’s playing; she won’t notice,” then I’m wrong about that. She will notice. She has noticed. And she will learn that it’s the norm if I don’t guard against an addiction to electronics at the expense of relationships with my family and being “in the moment” with them. Talk about convicting!
Besides the fact that these realizations were not “fun” to have, I am thankful that the Lord uses the ones I love to reveal things about me that need to change so that I can look more like Him and love my family more. I don’t want to be offended every time Patrick and I have a conversation. I don’t want Riley Grace to have to ask me to stop looking at my phone. I want to be present and loving and full of grace and humility in my relationships with them. Even things that seem harmless, like my phone, or things that may seem justifiable, like being offended if Patrick said something that hurt my feelings, are not ok. We need to notice those things about ourselves, and rather than trying to hide them or excuse them, we need to ask God to help us change the things that don’t look like Him, don’t point others to Christ, or don’t make others feel loved. As believers, we don’t want to settle into those bad habits. They aren’t harmless things, even if they seem minor. If the habits/attitudes/actions don’t point others to Christ, then they need to go!
- READ/STUDY: I encourage you to read all of Colossians 3. This passage talks about setting your mind on things above, where Christ is seated, not on earthly things. Paul explains things that we should “put off” and things that we should “put on” so that we can be clothed in Christ rather than in clothed in things/attitudes of this world. Also, read and pray through Psalm 139:23-24, asking the Lord to search your heart and reveal these sinful areas to you.
- EVALUATE: Read these verses closely and carefully. Don’t rush! What worldly things do you need to “put off,” and what godly things do you need to “put on” in order to have more fruitful and loving relationships?
- PRAY: Ask the Lord to reveal to you what areas of your life are hindering your relationships with others. These revelations may be painful or embarrassing (I certainly was embarrassed and taken aback when Riley Grace asked me to stop looking at my phone and look at her!), but it will be worth it in the long run for these issues to come into the light so that you can confront them and move forward in more Christ-centered relationships! Ask the Lord to help you make changes in these areas so that you can look more like Christ each day and better love the people that He’s placed in your life.
So, what do bruises and Facebook have in common?... Well, in my life, they reveal areas of my heart that are sinful and need the Lord to change. They reveal things that hinder meaningful relationships with my family because I'm focusing on myself rather than focusing on my loved ones.
What about you? Do you bruise easily (on the inside)? Do you need to put down your phone? Or is there something else in your life that the Lord is revealing to you that you need to change in order to look more like Christ? Don’t beat yourself up about those things, but don’t ignore them either. Instead of shoving them under the rug, confront them! I know that I will be more blessed by spending time involved in Riley Grace’s bath puppet game rather than scrolling through pictures of people I don’t even know on Facebook. I will be more blessed by continuing on in my conversation with Patrick so that we can grow together instead of becoming immediately offended at something, and thus ending any hope of a productive conversation. Friends, we will be blessed (even if it hurts at first) by confronting these areas with the Lord’s grace and strength! Ask Him to gently reveal these things to you, and help you to be free from them so you can look more like His child!