"Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken." Psalm 55:22 (NIV)
Recently I met a friend for coffee.
This is one of the great bonuses of having my son home from college. He needs money. I need time. My daughters need activity. So he took them to an indoor fun center that is the delight to many a child.
Not that I was feeling like I needed a break from all the family togetherness.
But my friend needed me.
So, we met and chatted and processed a situation I wish we didn't have to process — mean people.
I know I should say that people aren't mean. Sometimes people just do mean things.
And I know there are always two sides to every story. Glory be do I ever realize there are two sides. But during the holidays when "nice" is usually served up in high fashion, even the slightest meanness can seem really huge.
And knowing that in years past, my friend had spent way too many days crying during the holidays made me sad. For her. For the people who were mean to her during this time. For the reality that we Christians can be mean sometimes. We can be sharp and cutting and too tired to find the right words.
Not long ago, I got an email from someone who was too tired to find the right words. I still don't understand what caused her to be in such a tiff. And though I made my fingers type words back to her that were gentle and graceful, I will admit that what I really wanted to do was get in her face and tell her a thing or two. Boy did I have the perfect comeback. Because I can be mean. Just like those people who hurt my friend.
We are all more alike than we care to admit.
And not that I want to wax philosophical today, but here I go anyhow.
There's a bucket inside each heart where hurts are dumped. Little hurts, big hurts, past hurts—they all get dumped into this slop bucket. We think we're fine because the hurts are contained. We think we've dealt with the hurts because they aren't rising to the surface that often. But then someone comes along and kicks that slop bucket with a mean word or two and it spills over.
Sloshing. Spilling. Leaking. Staining. And every word we speak in response carries some of what's in our slop bucket.
So here's the thing.
Slop can be good if it's been turned into compassion. Some people have let Jesus touch their slop, mixing in mercy, grace, forgiveness, and a love that reaches just beyond what we're capable of on our own.
But too many of us have let our slop bucket sit and ferment in pride, resistance, our right to be right, and bitterness that cuts off our potential to grow into the woman we're designed to become. So, instead of compassion, the harshest judgment drips out with each of our words.
Compassion. Judgment. The reality that every girl has a slop bucket.
These are good things to think about over coffee when you've sent your kids away to play.
Dear Lord, You are worthy to be praised! Help me lean on You to heal all of my hurts and frustrations. I know that only You can change my slop into compassion, and for that I am grateful. Soften my heart, Lord, and continue to transform me into the woman You designed me to become. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Lysa TerKeurst's New York Times best selling book, Unglued, will help you learn how to control your emotions and reactions in any situation.
Give the gift that keeps on giving! Your friends will thank you when you purchase an Unglued Bible Study bundle for all of you to enjoy together.
Reflect and Respond:
Have you been allowing God to mix love and compassion into your slop bucket?
Write down a real life response you gave to someone while operating out of negative feelings. Underline hurtful words and replace them with helpful ones. Practice this technique several times until reacting in a positive way is more natural than reacting negatively.
Ezekiel 36:26-27, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." (NIV)
© 2012 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105