Sunday, September 4, 2011

Blessed through Obedience

Have you ever felt that nudge from the Holy Spirit? That voice that seems to whisper and echo in your mind and heart as if to say, "You know what to do, now do it." And that thing you feel you're being asked to do is something you're kind of dreading. Well, that happened to me this week.

A couple days ago a neighbor mentioned to me over the fence that she had found another small handful of rocks over her fence. The guilty party, not just once but now twice over, was Josiah (aka, JJ). She handed me the bag and expressed her concern for rocks coming over the fence. I apologized (tho I felt myself lacking sincerity) and told her I'd address the issue again. After another minute I walked away feeling irritated that she'd make such a big deal of it. "Boys are boys and boys will throw. It's not his fault we live in the city. Yes, I understand the hazard but did it really need to be a big deal??"

As I evaluated my frustrations and fumed further I realized it was mostly out of embarrassment and pride that my feelings were originating. I was embarrassed that I was being called out on the behavior of my kid. My pride had taken a hit. No longer would she think of me as the mom with great kids who shared her back fence. I'd be the Mom who couldn't control her kids who shared the back fence with her.

It wasn't long before the thought of apologizing came to mind. I knew in my heart I'd been defensive and abrupt with her. I knew in my heart, I'd been disrespectful and that my heart had not pleased God. I began to think through how I could apologize with it hurting the least. Sort of like a half "you know what" kind of apology. Again, I knew this wouldn't be the answer.

I decided to use a painting that JJ made as an apology card from JJ. He signed his name to the note that said, " I am sorry for throwing rocks over the fence.".

Secretly I was hoping I could find her in the back yard - perhaps see her working in her yard and just holler over the fence, hand her the note, apologize quickly and get it over with. I decided to work in the yard and found myself saying to the Lord, "Give me an opportunity Lord. I will be sincere and heart felt. I really am sorry for my behavior and my attitude now and I do want to please you and I do want to apologize. Send her out into the yard so I can do this." As quickly as the thought and prayer was off my "tongue/mind" it was as if I felt God saying to me, "Why should I have to send her out? You know where she lives. Go. And go NOW."

I had a choice. I knew God wanted me to go. I knew it'd be hard to swallow my pride. I knew face to face would feel different than a stretch over the fence and a quick laugh as we both moved on. I knew it would take vulnerability and honesty. I also knew the feeling and need to apologize wasn't going to fade. It'd stuck with me for several days and it had not budged.

So I grabbed the card and I grabbed a container of strawberry freezer jam and hopped in the car. I drove around the block to her house and parked. "Okay Lord... here I go."

I knocked on her door and when she opened the door I told her, "Hi, I'm your neighbor from the back yard." She eagerly said hello and asked me into her home. (Okay, surprise #1). She seemed a little puzzled at my coming but was immediately gracious and welcoming into her home. I went on to explain, "I just wanted to apologize for the conversation we had last week over the fence. I really felt like I was rude and abrupt with you and I know I was wrong. I have felt very convicted of my actions and I wanted to say that I am sorry. JJ made you a card and here is some strawberry freezer jam....".

Her face lit up and she said, "THANK you so much!" She acknowledged that the timing of the conversation wasn't good. She had rushed it as she knew she had a pot on the stove and she knew I was just grabbing something quick off the back porch. She said she'd hesitated before saying something but did it anyway. (And I'm glad she did). After a few more minutes of chatting she asked me if I'd like to join her for a glass of ice tea. (Surprise #2). I said, "YES! Let me go grab my purse out of the car." I was smiling to myself already as I walked to the car to get my purse and come back inside. My obedience was already being blessed.

She poured us ice tea in beautiful crystal glasses that almost looked similar to ice cream parfait glasses. We started to talk and we talked for at least an hour and a half! We covered topics of parenting, church, work, going back to school, moving, adapting, houses, peaches, and dogs. No kidding!! She went on to tell me how she loves to hear Carissa sing in the backyard and hear the boys playing. She said she finds Hooper to be such a regal looking dog and doesn't mind him at all. But the best thing she said the whole conversation was this. She said, "I want to thank you for being a mom that doesn't yell and scream at her kids. You are a mom that talks to them when you discipline. I can hear you and I really respect that in you." I was astonished. I thanked her and brushed it aside. But later in our chat I came back to her comment and told her how much it meant to me. I expressed to her how much her comment had touched my heart. Often as a mom I feel frazzled and I know I have resorted to anger, manipulation, bribery, or just pure yelling to communicate. And knowing that I've done that before has often left me feeling ashamed and embarrassed, knowing full well it's wrong. It's an area where I have been consciously working to do better - asking God for His help.

I left my house feeling anxious of the conversation to come. Not knowing how it would end up but knowing it was a conversation that needed to be had.

But I went.

I left her home feeling full and encouraged. Feeling blessed not only by God but by my new found friend. I left feeling validated by a veteran mom and grandma. I left feeling hopeful for what is yet to be in our friendship. She opened her home and her heart to me. We exchanged numbers and I plan to stop in and visit her again. Perhaps next time I'll take the guilty party with me. She told me she planned to put his picture (card) on the fridge.

I sense that God could use her in my life for good things. And perhaps God could use me and even a rock throwing boy, in her life. We need each other so much more than we often think.

God will always bless us when we choose to walk in obedience. It isn't always in blessings seen immediately. It isn't always presented with a bow wrapped around it and a big balloon attached. But it was for me today. Today I was given the gift of friendship.


EmilyB said...

happy tears running down my face. Thanks for being open to the holy spirit and then for sharing with us.

I love ya, charity!


Anonymous said...

Beautiful exchange in a situation that could've been so negative. Encouraged by your obedience to the Father and share His love in a way that only a child of God can do.


Connie said...

What a wonderful post to start my day! Love you!!!