Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Eating Crow

I hate eating crow.

For those not familiar with this expression because you are not a native English speaker (or simply because I am old and you are not) this means having to apologize for something after taking a strong stance.  Presumably eating crow would leave a bad taste in your mouth.  So does apologizing after you have been so stubborn.

I am a hothead. I am also a verbal processor.  These two things can be explosive together when I reach a point of frustration where I just let it out.  I can't tell you the number of times I have had to swallow my pride and reach out and apologize. It is an almost painful, and certainly humbling - sometimes humiliating- experience.

Over the years as I have grown up and matured (hopefully hah) I have learned better how to hold my tongue and can usually wait until the proper moment to approach a situation in a way that is more calm and reasonable.  However there are still times of stress and feeling overwhelmed when I don't do this in the right way.  This week I had one of those times and I had to reach out to my poor victim (who truly was nothing but the messenger) and ask forgiveness.  Of course my platform to talk about the things that really are a problem is gone because no one takes it seriously anymore.  It's an unfortunate side effect of this particular sin.

One of the things that we continually talk about in our mission is the fact that we, as humans, are capable of so much more evil that we want to admit.  We often surprise ourselves when we fall back into a pattern where we thought we had victory.  We are taken aback my the toxicity of the words that flow from our mouth - or at least the thoughts that come from our hearts, even if we don't verbalize them.  I find myself thinking this often when a thought comes into my head about a brother or sister that I am with.  I expect tons of grace given to me because I know what God is doing in me, but I am quick to forget that he is working in others as well.

However, we follow up that idea with the fact that God loves us more than we can possibly know or imagine.

I have been working with interns and apprentices on this team for the last few years.  They come excited and ready to change the world in a few short months.  They come with a romanticized idea of Kenya, and fall hard when the reality of how hard it is to live cross-culturally hits them between the eyes.  It is one of my privileges and joys to help them walk through the tension of how ugly they feel when the "I'm right and you are wrong" thought permeates through them and the fact that this is not who they are anymore battles for their hearts.  Their sinfulness startles them, but I can see that it is nothing that has not been there all along.  Our flesh is ugly and messy and very, very selfish.

But then I remind them of the good news - the news that they are loved more than than they can even imagine.  The news that the old is gone and the new is here.  The news that we don't fight against each other but rather against spiritual forces of evil.  The news that there is no condemnation for those in Christ.  Often their (and my) first reaction to being confronted with our sin is justifying their actions by whatever means necessary. How crazy our flesh and our need for reputation is!   But slowly I  see a lightbulb come on (again and again) and they confess and repent, they reconcile things between them and whomever they hurt, and they let go of that weight and move on.

It's so easy to remind others of this.  I love mentoring and discipling. Both because I enjoy seeing these revelations happen in the people I am talking to, but also because it is a constant reminder to me of who I was without Christ and who I now am with him.  As I study and teach each of these lessons, I am given a new revelation of the depth of these truths each time. 

I am sure I will be eating crow many more times in life, though hopefully it won't be served as often as when I was younger.  However I am so so thankful for the grace and new life that comes as the next course of that meal.

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