Sunday, October 4, 2009

Cleaning the Fish Bowl

Have you ever noticed that a fish bowl can appear clean until you stick a net in it and snag something at the bottom of the bowl? Stir up a few rocks and the next thing you know all the garbage camouflaged at the bottom begins to float to the surface. Within minutes the facade of a clean environment is corroded by all the filth. In that moment of clarity, you can choose to take the time to clean the bowl or ignore it and hope the garbage will eventually hide again on the bottom.

I feel like parenting is the net God is using in my fish bowl. From the outside my life looks clean and sterile. My bowl has two fishy parents, a little plastic house and a few palm fronds for my four baby fishes to hide in. And I like it like that. But man, this weekend God has been hammering me with the net of parenting. He has been stirring up the rocks with random poor behavior from the kids and instead of rising to the challenge, I have been falling flat on my face. Nothing like watching your kids make public spectacles of themselves and then adding yourself to the Nincompoop List by acting like an idiot instead of responding with grace and love.

I don't typically classify myself as a Cryer, but I found myself locked in my bathroom, sobbing in desperation and crying out to God for wisdom. I heard myself asking God, "Why can I be a great wife, a great friend and a great daughter but I can't seem to find my niche as a successful mom?" My kids' poor choices were the tool that God chose to use to dredge up the garbage in my life and it was hard to admit that my sterile life is filled with hidden filth.

Over the course of this weekend, Jesus has lovingly shown me that I am rich in love, but lacking in self control. Quick to encourage, but equally quick to get angry. My pride is causing me to attach a part of my identity to the choices my kids do or don't make and when it contradicts my preference, I get embarrassed and my prideful knee-jerk reaction certainly isn't filled with love.

Thank God for fresh starts. For new days. For teachable moments. For forgiveness, restoration, healing and love. Today I faced the garbage and cleaned out my fish bowl. God and I tackled the hard stuff head on and it feels good to have a purged life. A renewed purpose. A fresh perspective and a goal. With Jesus' help, I am determined to keep my fish bowl free of pride and anger by daily cleaning it with God's love, forgiveness, patience and grace. Hopefully the overflow of a purer life will bless my kids and husband as well.

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