Humble Pie With a Dollop of Grace
We sat around my in-law's dining room table and laughed while Corban and Micah filled their plates yet again with turkey, cranberry jelly and mashed potatoes. It was funny because we had just eaten Thanksgiving dinner at my brother's home, not quite an hour before! But they are growing boys, so we just sat back and watched, remembering a time when we could eat whatever we wanted.
The conversation flowed over slices of pie and coffee. It really was enjoyable, but I found myself irritated that I had needed to remind the boys several times to say "Thank you!", and "Yes, please!" instead of "Yeah!"
They know these things - I've taught them to be respectful their whole lives! Are they on politeness overload from this long day of visiting family? I grumbled to myself, wiping the baby's nose and handing her the toy she'd dropped. Yes, Mama was on overload as well.
"Kevin, would you like a slice of pecan or pumpkin pie?" my mother-in-law asked him as he eyed the delectable pastries on the table. "Or perhaps a slice of both?"
He leaned in closer, licked his lips, and said, "Yeah!"
I couldn't stop it.
"Yes, please!" I hissed.
I clapped my hands over my mouth. My father-in-law did the same, but his eyes were twinkling. My mother-in-law burst into laughter, and my sweet husband winked and smiled at me, putting his hand on my arm in reassurance, instantly extending his loving form of grace.
I felt the blood rush into my face; I'm a terrible blusher. I honestly wanted to sink into a hole and disappear. Or at least to rewind the last five minutes.
I'm always extra anxious about behavior and manners when we're at my in-laws' home, but this was a new low for me. I had let my concern about appearances rule my mouth, and in so doing, had demeaned my husband, in front of his parents; in front of his children.
Oh, was there ever a woman more wretched than myself? I wash my mouth out with foot more often than I care to remember. I strive to be everything God wants me to be, and fall so short.
"So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?
Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin." (Romans 7:14-25)
The trouble is not with my desires, for they are right and good - cherishing my husband, being a good mama, an upright disciplinarian, keeping a clean home - the trouble is with me.
I will fail.
And when I do, God reaches out his hand, lays it reassuringly on my arm, and gives me a wink and a smile. And I start again. Same desires, same goals, same struggles, even the same outcome more often than not.
So, would I like some forgiveness, or some grace? Or perhaps a helping of both?