Thursday, August 15, 2013

Watch the attitude!

Montana: sky country
I felt angry. Frustrated. Began to shut down inside to control the volcano threatening to erupt.

"You okay?" W was tip-toeing around me, loading the last things into the car for the trip home from the cabin. "You seem kind of quiet."

"I'm upset. For years, I've lived in a building project, looking forward to spending time relaxing." I tried to keep my voice on an even keel, but the steam was starting to boil.

Anger used to be my go-to emotion. I was a pepper-shaker of a kid with a flash temper. I learned to control my rage by the time I was in my teens. But every few months, it would bubble up inside me, trapping my mind in a vicious spiral. Some little thing would set off an explosion. When I'd vent my frustration on my husband, he wondered, "Where did that come from?"

I haven't been really angry for a while. The pattern broke when I acknowledged my own failures before God and named the people I hadn't forgiven, one by one. I remember being shocked at what I was holding on to. Hurts. Grievances. Expectations.

And I remember the relief of letting that go, admitting that no one owed me goodness the way I owed God love and obedience. He'd wiped my slate clean. Now I could do the same for others.

My heart sang for days after that encounter with the cross of Christ. Forgiven. Free.

But I was mad Tuesday as we locked the cabin door and drove off.

My favorite spot this summer:
watching peaceful glacier run-off
W's crafting had been a joyful relaxation for him each summer. He likes to do things himself so he didn't want me building alongside.

I watched. Waited. Got impatient at the pace and incremental progress. Blocked my feelings until I didn't care anymore if it ever got done. I stayed home a few summers while I finished my studies.

Then last year, I spent an extra month at the cabin on my own, closing the doors of the rooms that were undone, mentally blocking out the unfinished parts while I recovered from cramming through a dissertation. God knew I needed the quiet space.

This year, W built the beds in the bunk rooms. The light fixtures went up. The mattresses and pillows were put in place; I collected enough sheets, sleeping bags, and blankets for 20 people. (Thanks Mom!) I finally got to wallpaper the back entry with maps, hung a few funny sayings on the wall, and moved furniture into place. It looked great and worked just as designed. Made me happy!

We were home-away-from-home. Except that we had to clean up and leave a day after hosting a big group. There was no time to relax.

Wide open roads and sky
"Waaa. waaa. Girl, you have a choice to make." I could hear a mocking echo in my head as the car pulled away. "Look around you."

The trees pumped oxygen into the clear Montana sky, blue-green mountains feathered with evergreens on every horizon. Stunning. We'd enjoyed these surroundings for 19 years, not to mention making wonderful friends who made each summer a special retreat.

"What will you choose? To hold the resentment? To fill your soul with joy at the beauty I've given you?" God was hemming me between options. Thankfulness? Gratitude? Or my old acquaintance, anger?

I was ticked enough to think about it. To consider reengaging the comfort of my destructive habits.

Then W pulled up to a cabin to say goodbye to our friends. They've helped us, shared meals, and been an integral part of our life in Montana. The fellow and W worked together on our cabin and their computer, talking about faith and God and life.

"You're leaving already?" the wife opened the door. Four other women were getting up from the living room sofa. "We have a prayer meeting every Tuesday," she said. "Come in."

Her husband walked in the door as we were hugging and saying goodbye. They extended their hands in a prayer circle and prayed over us. Blessed us. Asked God to provide the finances and prayer supporters for our mission. I could hardly hold back my tears.

Flowers for the cabin
I felt God chuckling as we got into the car to leave. "You didn't really think I was going to let you stew on the way home, did you?" Apparently he cares for W (and me!) too much for that.

My heart lifted. I felt grateful for our years at camp. The gravel crunched under the tires, the clean air washed through my lungs, and the landscape began to stream by the windows. We'd had a gift from God for nearly two decades. Who could complain?

"How are you feeling?" I asked W a few times on the way home. He admitted he was sad to leave, as I was.

We had a great trip home. Relaxed. Prepared for reentry: the university faculty meets this week to start up the academic year. I'm rearranging life for the new season, checking off appointments in the coming week.

For the first time we can remember, there was no smog cloud and no stench of pollution when we came over Snoqualmie Pass and dropped down toward Seattle. It had rained the night before and the air was clear. Another gift - we dread that return to city smells and haze.

God is good. And we are His. I'm happy that He loves us too much to let us wallow in sin and its consequences. That He renews our strength to soar like the eagles. That His beauty fills the world and refreshes my soul.

It's all in the attitude. What are you choosing to focus on in your own circumstances today?

Read more:
*Seek good and not evil, that you may live. Amos 5:14 NLT

*Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. Romans 12:17 NLT

Moravian Prayer: Almighty God, help us to seek the right path. We delight in your goodness and seek to follow you. We are your children, give us your peace. May we be noble in your sight and walk in your ways. Amen.

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