I had a bad day last week.
Let me elaborate. I don’t mean bad things happened to me. Those days do come. Like the book says, “it rains on the just and the unjust.” When I say I had a bad day, I mean I was a bad person. I gave into selfishness, into rage, into pity.
At one point in this bad day, my sweet daughter asked, “Daddy, are you mad?” On one hand, I am so glad this is such a rare occasion that she found it confusing. On the other hand, I am so sad that she looked upon me with fear.
Now, I am not saying I am without sin. I do not intend to convey a life free from mistake. I am a broken man. But I have met the Christ, and He is making me new. The normal pattern of life is one of love, joy, peace, patience, and self-control. It just flows out of a grateful heart. And when I do snap, I am quick to apologize. That is the normal pattern of life. A life of obedience paired with a daily heart of repentance.
So what made this bad day different?
1) I was away from the source. I had been running a few days on empty. I was running so hard there was no room for rest. No room to rest in the Lord. As Jesus says, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” I was running apart from Him. And I live a life that is absolutely impossible without Him. I step out of from the shadow of His wing and I am quickly aware of my inadequacy.
2) I was ashamed. Godly regret leads to repentance, while worldly regret leads to death. I felt bad for being so short with my family. I felt ashamed for being so angry with everyone. And because I felt ashamed, I hid. I withdrew. It was a terrible cycle. I would speak unkind and hurtful words. I would feel bad for being awful, and would speak more awful words out of my anger at being awful. I didn’t know how to come back.
3) I was proud. Even though there was shame, there was also this desire for self-reliance. I wanted to find my own way back. I was on tilt, and I was trying to will myself to get back from the edge. I kept trying to find some way to make myself okay. And I refused to ask for help. My sweet wife Angie even came to me, as I sat pouting at my desk, and asked me what she could do to help me. And I waved her away. I wanted to do it myself. It is so stupid. I didn’t come to this place through my own power, why do I think I could keep it through such?
All of this kept me stuck in a loop of isolation and seething anger. How did I get out of this loop? Well, mostly, it was through surrender. I came with my head down to the throne of God, and fell down at His feet. I just stopped trying to fix my feelings. I just came to the Lord with them honestly. I admitted my shame and confessed my awfulness. Then I came to my wife, and apologized to her for the way I had treated her. And she drew me in close and forgave me. And just like that, healing began. The chasm had felt so huge, and it only took one embrace to bring us back together.
Intimacy with God brought light. Vulnerability brought truth. Repentance and the rising sun brought hope.
It is a hard to bow the knee. It is hard to bring our ugliness to the Lord. It is hard to say we’re sorry. But often, it is the way home.