The original title for this one was, “When the Upchuck Gets On You”…I was shooting for a funny title on this one. But then as my words poured out, it got really serious and I changed it. So last night, I’m hanging out with my little Sophie. Momma just finished nursing her and I put on my night shirt to walk around the house with her until she fell asleep (she loves falling asleep in my arms!). Well, her tummy was a little too full. Newborns within their first week tend to throw up, a lot. It’s natural. They don’t know what ‘to be full’ is like, they also comfort nurse, and their little tummies are just getting used to processing food. So they barf.
It wasn’t a minute after I held her to my chest, snuggled warmly in her quilt that the front of my shirt is just covered in upchuck. My wife looks up at me in the dark from the bed and says, “Is that throw-up on you?” To which I wryly replied, “No babe, I just spilled a bowl of oatmeal all over my shirt.” She laughed, then we changed her. Then I put my baby to sleep.
This is the analogy…have you noticed, when you engage others, when you delve into their lives and share with them, you may start to take on their mess? Maybe not intentionally, but we feel it. I was apart of a conversation just last weekend with several people that I am close to, people that affect my soul. I was mostly silent and was just hanging out. I won’t go into all the details, but the conversation turned to sex in marriage. Oh my gosh, so depressing. It was filled with pretty intimate details brought out in an almost mocking/joking tone. For the record, I’m not an overt prude here, but I know if my spouse was talking like that about our sex life behind my back, I would be tempted to be on hiatus from the bedroom. And these were really strong Christians, people that I look up to!
Basically afterward, to quote Mayor Quimby from The Simpsons, I think my heart was whispering, “I need a drink and a shower.”
Now, before I go any further, there are probably a million times when I have said something or did something that messed with someone around me. I’m hardly perfect. And I humbly take my shoes off here, I am not worthy. Seriously, I am not, at all, worthy. And I’m not calling “hypocrites!” here, but I am saying, when we as believers say or do things that are below our calling, it disturbs the sisters and brothers around us. It perturbs the waters around us because we look up to each other. Our words are powerful. We can get caught in their wake. Or more accurately, we are presented with the choice to take on what they are saying, the choice can become a temptation based upon our heart’s condition. And when we are the speakers, we can present the choice to others for them to be caught up in our wake. This is not in the holy, intimate vulnerability that comes with sharing of lives and hearts centered in fruits of the Spirit (which is such a blessed thing to be in), but words and decisions that are fruit of the world, of our flesh, of our sinful reactions.
I’ll be honest, I’ve struggled on and off this week since then. An example from today: I had an ophthalmologist appointment today. I found a cyst on my eyeball (I’ll spare you the picture of that one) and got it checked out (It’s fine, got the eyedrops and am good to go). I’m on my way back to work. I was listening to Taylor Swift, I love T-Swift, and there’s a song on her 1989 album, Wildest Dreams, and it always makes me think of intimate times with my wife. My heart immediately threw up resistance. I wanted to back out and run from that thought, from that place of intimacy and desire to a “safe” place (I like to run when I am hurt, sinning, upset, or don’t know what to do as I have wrote before.) My heart was saying,
I didn’t want to go there right now. I want to run away. I want a comfortable wall and hiding spot.
I listened to a John Eldredge podcast last night and he was talking about asking Jesus to bring out issues and agreements in our hearts for us to deal with, to be healed from. God brought John’s words to mind as I drove on the interstate today and gently he coaxed me out of my spiritual critter hole to talk with him.
We talked for awhile. We talked about how I had listened to their words and it had hurt me. How I struggled with words and motives and wanting to move away from intimacy with my wife because of certain words said. How I had places in my heart that I never fully healed, but sorta held onto in my back pocket in case I needed a reason to run from intimacy. Even now, as I follow this resistance, I feel him guiding my thoughts back to a season of life when my wife got really into fighting sex trafficking, a holy calling, after we were newlyweds. Fighting human trafficking is a brutal arena of spiritual warfare to be in. The intensity of it got to her heart and it significantly impacted our sex life for several years. I remember emotionally walking out of the bedroom, for like two years during that season.
I’m good at hiding. I’m good at running. I can come home and give my beautiful wife a short kiss on the cheek and then be a rock star dad with the kids in the other room. But since this past weekend, I’ve been holding back on my wife and putting even more focus on the kiddos, focus that belongs to her. When I get home, I haven’t followed her as much into the kitchen to talk. I haven’t pulled her firmly close to me and kissed her like I missed her like crazy while I was at work. I haven’t kissed her like I wanted her. Which I did, deep down I did. But I ran. So this week I haven’t done that, I have been sitting up in the corner of my heart’s attic, just pissed and not wanting to come down for cookies. But if you filmed my life, an outside observer probably couldn’t tell the difference unless they studied me under a microscope.
Last night, after working with God some on my heart yesterday, I felt Psalm 51:10 (verse 12 in the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia for my fellow Hebrew students),
‘Create a clear heart in me God and renew a stable spirit in me.’
God never asked for us to be perfect before we enter relationship with others. But, we do have to still hold Proverbs 4:23 close to our chest, even when we are near other brothers and sisters, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Italics added) Last weekend, I let the words from others conjure up stored away sin and loneliness that I had long ago stored away in the attic of my heart. I made the choice to “go there” when they had things they were struggling with and had relegated off to mocking long ago.
The good thing, because God works for the good in all things for us who love him, is that God used this opportunity to open up the attic door in my heart and do some summer cleaning. He can start to pull out some dusty items, covered with cobwebs, that really just need to be thrown away. (Grace covers all through the cross for us, so why in the world have I been rolling around in dirty rags from years and years ago in the context of somebody else’s words when they really just need to be trashed?)
We’re imperfect beings, on the road to perfection. But in the meantime, even in the safety of others in the family of God, we still have to be careful to what words we are in taking and how our hearts are reacting to the issues of other people. I’m still jacked up in certain places inside and if I’m messing around with the wrong stuff, if I’m going to the wrong places mentally or emotionally or emotionally. I’m taking two steps back in my walk with God. Aside from the attic clean out of my heart, I learned that when the warning sign in my heart pops up, it’s time to take it to Jesus, sit down with him, and listen to his words of wisdom of what is going on inside me. He knows me, intimately, Every part of me, every thought, every desire. Everything. He knows how it all fits together and works as a whole. He’s the one I will run to next time.
I’m ready to come down from my hiding spot in the attic, to come down and have some cookies. I think when I get home from work, I’m going to pull my wife extra close and give her the biggest kiss I’ve given her all week.
Thank you Jesus . Thank you for your commitment to my heart’s restoration. Now, I’m a little more free than I was this time yesterday. Thank you.