That was the question I posed to myself last fall as I again went on a rampage against my husband – but not in real life (…this time…). Only alone in my own thoughts.
I contradict nearly everything my husband suggests.
“I’m going to go hunting on Saturday.”
“We really need you to mow the yard, finish the deck, and sand that picnic table.”
“I think we should get those retaining blocks another day.”
“What other day? We’re not home together again all week.”
“Will you pick up something for dinner and we can eat quick and have a quiet night at home?’
“Well, we planned for pork chops and we could really use the leftovers.”’
Ugh. I am so annoying!! And I realized it on an “off” day.
I struggled to focus on any task at hand. I spilled food at dinner. I was basically acting like a normal human, which is not my strong suit, considering I’m a perfectionist. I looked at Jim and said, “I know what it feels like to not have things go well – and have what seems like everything fight against you. I know what it feels like to be you. And I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for you to be you when I’m being critical.”
The man about. fell. over. He just looked at me with those big, defeated eyes and gave a breathy, exasperated, “Yea!”
This revelation led to a single, simple thought: would you wanna hang out with you?
My simple answer: no.
I’m mean, critical, judgy, and definitely not a grace-giver. I’m everything Satan loves some days. And while we all know Satan is super fun to hang with (e.g., the dancing and drinking I did in college – which aren’t always sinful, but in my case…probably were a bit), we also know that Satan only provides a short term high, which ends in feeling totally lonely, isolated, and empty. And it got me thinking about when I’m more pleasant: when the devil’s on my shoulder, or God is guiding my thoughts and actions?
This seems like a no-brainer answer: when God is #1 in your life, right? But I honestly don’t know that I’m super fun in that mode. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve got a lot great qualities that come out when I’m focused on a demeanor that is God-honoring. I’m actually pretty authentic, a decent listener, and quick to serve. But when the devil’s on my shoulder, I’m more likely to take risks, speak before thinking, and let my cockiness overpower my confidence. Maybe those aren’t great qualities, but haven’t you noticed people who get attention have those qualities? It starts as young as grade school, with students who act out getting the most teacher time. We’re drawn to sensational reality TV shows, and we are living in an era of a narcissistic president. Everything in our world screams to us: be louder and bolder than everyone else. And get rewarded.
As reflected on that, I thought: being a follower of Christ is BORING! No wonder so many don’t spend their time with Him. But then I reflected on those times I feel lonely, isolated, and empty as a result of shrugging off God and choosing the Devil. And I realized I feel more fulfilled, at peace, and calmer when I’m in strong relationship with Christ.
It’s tough to be counter-culture. It’s tough to not want to feel the high of hanging with the devil. It’s tough to stop being critical and love on people like Jesus does for me over and over again every day. Luckily, my two-year-old is my consistent reminder of this love Jesus offers. And yet it is amazing how quickly I can go from adoring love for this beautiful, constantly-in-awe human…to complete exhaustion and on-the-brink-angry-meltdown (that my husband and I call tapping out – “He’s yours. I’m tapping out”).
But today I was reminded that long-term, consistent joy is so much better than exciting, short-term happiness. People flock to that attitude, and can see Jesus living in you (which, is kind of the goal, Christians). And…no one likes a crabby, critical curmudgeon. So today I choose joy. And I’ll need to be reminded of this month after month for likely the rest of my life. But maybe, just maybe, I’ll get to a point where more often I’ll be less critical to those I love the most, and want to hang out with me than not. And maybe others will feel the same too.
If that fails, I’ll just buy wine. Friends always show up when there’s free wine, right? 🙂