With only two weeks left at home this summer, I have been reflecting on what I have learned in the past few months of living with my family again. Much of the new insight I have gained is the result of conversations with my parents or sisters. Sometimes our talks have been serene – times for me to think aloud and receive input or encouragement without question. Others have not been as painless.
Wow, that was a bit dramatic. When making the above statement and implying that some of my conversations have been painful, I mainly refer to growing pains and the slight burning sensation that accompanies embracing humility. This summer I have had practice with handling both so I can receive correction graciously. Instead of making excuses when my little sister or my mom call me on to better behavior, I have been trying to open my mind and hear them out. This has not been easy.
Although I often forget, the truth is that when my family and friends challenge me, they do so out of love. Although I may feel offended, I am learning to recognize that it is not their intent to hurt me. Instead of being so quick to defend myself, I have to call to mind James 1:19 – “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” The same idea is reflected in a quote from Epictetus (I have no idea who that is…): “We have two ears and one mouth, so we ought to listen twice as much as we talk.” Although truth is hard for me to hear when it hurts my pride, it is so important for me to listen. Truth spoken in love (Ephesians 4:15) should be received in love.
Although I know I will never be perfect, it is not fun to discover yet another area of my life that needs work. Yet if I take the time to listen to the encouragement and calling on of the people who love me, if I can let go of the irritation that is my immediate response, I discover truth and hope. In my weakness and struggle, God is strong. If I surrender my difficulties to Him, He empowers me to overcome.
I know I am flawed and broken, and oh how I wish I could do a better job of loving and serving God and the people He has put in my life. Thank God, then, that He gives us grace to overcome weakness when we are leaning on Him. I thank Him for His mercy that does not run out, even when I am slow to listen, quick to speak, and quick to get angry. Our God is quick to love and every day we have the chance to try to be more like Him. Praise God!