I was so thankful to have some time in Paris with just Ethan on the tail end of our mission trip to England. However, I didn’t account for the exhaustion and grumpiness that would come from the introvert in me being with a team of 17 other people for ten days. At the end of the trip, I felt like I needed to just get away for awhile and have quiet moments to myself. But instead we hopped in a car with some people for three hours, then spent the day in the airport with more people, and hopped on a plane with even more people and traveled to a city with about 12 million people. So introversion doesn’t exactly thrive in said scenarios.
There were some really happy and wonderful moments… Macaroon moments, if you will. Those little colorful pieces of the day, sitting on a street corner in Paris with my best friend and taking it all in, feeling overwhelmingly blessed to have such an amazing opportunity. And looking back, I know that I should have kept that mentality the whole time – I was in a beautiful city with my best friend and we had a whole week to just enjoy, relax and be together. Really, what is there to complain about?
But so often I found myself on the verge of tears from pure exhaustion, hot from the unexpected 85 degree heat wave, and tired from walking about 12 miles every day in a crowded city. All these things somehow distracted me from the good setup we had and I spent so many moments just grumpy or irritable or complaining. I was not patient, I was often unkind, and got upset when I didn’t get my way. Basically I did everything opposite of this list from Corinthians:
We had a difficult but necessary conversation in the London airport about fruit and a life that points to Jesus in the present, not just in hindsight. Sharing a life with someone means they see your true colors in the inconvenient times (like when the air conditioning is out for five days and you don’t have one place to go home) and in the tired moments (like when you are recovering from jetlag and feeling cranky) and in the moments of discouragement and insecurity. They see it all, and often receive the brunt of our frustrations because we let our guard down and forget to be kind when we’re experiencing all those not so fun things.
Thankfully my other half is a gracious and consistent, patient man. He was so kind to forgive quickly and stay positive any time I acted in a way that was short or rude or even childish at times. I felt that I was demonstrating my worst qualities while he was consistently demonstrating the love of Christ. I think that in our darker moments we can light so clearly. I’m thankful for the times he stopped to encourage and gently remind me to seek Jesus instead of whatever temporal comfort I was complaining about not having in that moment.
God uses our natural community to teach, encourage and correct us so often if we let him. It’s easy to put up my guard when I feel corrected or called out, but so often God is using that exact conversation I’m running from to teach me more about his character and grace. I pray that I can use these lessons and learn and grow into someone who daily looks like Jesus instead of always having to learn from my mistakes down the road. There’s much to be said for an active faith that can roll with the punches instead of only having a reflective heart that can’t adapt until it’s had time to process. I think God can teach both hearts the same lesson, but I desire so much for the fruits and the actions of my life to be an immediate overflow of the daily love I’m receiving instead of an afterthought or lesson learned.
Let the song I sing bring joy to you, let the words I say profess my love. Let the notes I choose be your favorite tune, Father let my heart be after you.
Garden by Needtobreathe