Today I learned a deep and profound thing.
It may have changed my life forever.
I hope it’s changed my life forever, because now that I’m fixated on it, I can’t imagine being content in the unknowing of this thing.
In dealing with the temptation to indulge my temper with yelling and shaming, I’ve always tried to will it away. When my kids were little, I would go to bed every night feeling defeated and filled with shame because I broke their little hearts with my anger, and I would wake up every morning feeling hopeful that today would be a new day, that today would be different.
But every day my hopes were dashed as the cycle continued.
I believe that by God’s grace we should cling to Jesus in our temptation, but I always thought the path to grace and to Jesus was for me to turn away from my rage.
That always seems impossible to me, because no matter what I know to be a true Truth, I’m still going to choose the euphoric relief I feel when the pressure valve of my rage is released.
And no matter what I know to be a true Truth, I’m always going to fight back when my little army advances on me with their own hearts of rebellion.
When I meditate on this very difficult thing, this expectation that I turn away from temptation, I always think of Danny Devito’s line in Heist: “Everybody needs money. That’s why they call it money.”
Well… everybody fails at temptation. That’s why they call it temptation.
And then I was shown this true Truth in Hebrews 2:18…
For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
I don’t have to turn away from anything or will myself to avoid temptation. I can stay right there in the pile I’m standing in and take whatever hurtful thing my daughter says to me, whatever disrespect my son dishes out. And as I absorb it, my ego will bruise, the verbal wound will go deep, and the rejection will be profound.
In that moment, I will suffer.
I might even die a little.
But I will not be alone, because Jesus always suffers with me.
He holds my hair back as I wretch into the toilet.
He cleans my wounds and wraps them in clean bandages.
He cradles me against his chest as I cry the ugly cry and get snot all over his shirt.
And when I’m done suffering the injustice of sassy words or whatever bullshit I take so personally from a half pint, I will walk with a limp or perhaps have a scar. But I will carry this wound as a reminder of that time I loved so deeply that I was willing to suffer, because that’s what Jesus did for me when he died on the cross.
This is the piece I’ve been missing my whole life.
I’ve always believed that I took his suffering for granted and didn’t take my sin seriously, but I couldn’t find my way in to a place of empathy.
I get it now.
And I know I am different.
I’m free to lovingly shepherd my kids’ hearts into repentance and reconciliation because Jesus suffers with me, and I don’t have to fight or turn away any more.
This changes everything.