The author of the book I'm reading Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World used the Queen of Hearts to describe herself and her temper. I have to say while I laughed, my heart was stinging. I knew exactly what she meant. A tyrant, sputtering ridiculous commands in selfish anger.
And again yesterday when Proverbs 31 president Lysa TerKeurst confessed a bad attitude as an outward indication of an inward problem, I had to cringe. As she named off a handful of tell-tale signs of inward decay & rot, I had to wince as I identified with two or three of them. No one likes to have their ugly exposed for what it is.
I've always had a short temper. As a child I'd stomp my foot so hard the china closet in the basement would shake. A time or two I threw whatever object that was closest at the source of my anger (typically my teasing big brother...but not always). In high school when I found out some of my best friends had been gossipping about me, I threw my purse at the dance mirrors in the choir room. It broke. It was the second day of school. With a brand new music teacher.
That day I went home and wrote up a bunch of verses about anger, and a couple Latin phrases my fantastic Latin teacher had taught us. I taped them to my mirror. It seemed fitting. And I calmed down considerably. When you have to shell out some cash because of your anger and the choir of 90+ students look at you like you've wandered from the set of The Exorcist...you learn to get a grip.
But lately, my grip's been slipping. I hear myself start to lose it and the words 'Off with your head' form on my lips, foaming at the mouth, waiting to be shouted at the next frustration.
I've been struggling lately with feeling that I am being taken advantage of (and I realize that one should not end a sentence with 'of' but I couldn't come up with a better way to phrase that). But I read this morning that I'm to honor God, even when I feel dishonored. If I'm being honest, and I have to be honest or what's the point in writing anything....IIIIIIII Doooooon't WAAANNNNAAA!!!! (read that real slow and whiny) I don't want to do the Godly thing, I want to do the fleshy thing. I want to live in the moment, stomping my foot, throwing things, feel indignant about how I've been treated. It's not fair. And, childish outbursts aside, I think God would agree that things aren't fair.
But He never promised life would be fair. In fact, He told us it wouldn't be fair, easy, or comfortable. It wasn't for Him, the promised Messiah, the Savior of all Mankind, the God of all the Universe. It wasn't fair that He should be called crazy, be forced to escape from stoning or being thrown from a cliff...and it wasn't fair that he died a humiliating, agonizing, slow death for sins He never committed. Sins that had already broken His heart, now were breaking His body and, for a short while, breaking His relationship with His Father. That is the ultimate injustice.
But the Scriptures never show Him whining. I see Him lose His temper in righteous anger, a truly justifiable indignation of the sacrilegeous defilement of His Father's house. But He doesn't ever explode at the disciples' failure to just get what He was saying. The gospels don't show Jesus losing his mind over little things. Jesus doesn't lash out when His own family tries to have Him committed. He doesn't stick around for the abuse either, but He doesn't get down in the mud, slinging angry words. No, the only time Jesus seems to get in the mud is to produce a miracle.
In this new light, the light of Heaven, my slights and frustrations seem piddly in comparison. What right do I have to look at Heaven, shaking my angry fist, spewing angry words, and stomping an angry foot? Venting my self-centered feelings to God, forgetting that it's His creations I'm talking about. Never noticing that I'm simultaneously breaking several commands...all those things relating to anger, love, and forgiveness.
In this new light, I don't look so pretty. I look like the red-faced Queen of Hearts. But I have one thing she doesn't, because Lewis Carroll never wrote it in, unlike the Author of my story. Redemption is my plot twist. Forgiveness awaits me, and an opportunity to do better. I can draw close to the Prince of Peace, and in His presence, I will also emit peace. While looking into His face, I won't be looking at myself and thinking only of me. And He will start to show me how He sees His creations...with love, compassion, and tenderness.
Jesus doesn't say that it's right or okay that we suffer injustices and a world that just is plan unfair. It was never meant to be this way. So of course it's not okay! But He will help us get through it until the day comes when we enter a world that is fair. How glorious will it be to never hear again, "whoever said that life is fair?" And for all of us short-tempered folks, how truly amazing will it be to never feel that tightening sensation in my veins as I try to resist a good cry of 'OFF WITH YOUR HEAD?' No more selfishness getting in the way of meekness and peacemaking. Just Love and Goodness every I look, every where I am, even inside me.
Someday...no more Queen of Hearts lurking deep within me, stewing and threatening to surface. And in the meantime, I have to let His grace fill me up so much that it spills out onto everyone around me even when I've been wronged. I have to focus on Him so self fades so much that I can swallow hurt feelings, wrong-doings, and every little thing that just gets me going. I'm going to pray for some perspective. I mentioned in yesterday's post (which if you haven't read yet, check it out) the Francesca Battistelli song 'This is the Stuff'. It's my new anthem and prayer. The world is full of situations to drive me crazy and get my frustration building but I have to remember how big I'm already blessed and it's not the end of the world. And in the moments, I have to listen for the Prince of Peace to direct me, and I think inevitably He will point out....how will taking off someone's head do any good?