Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Since attending the Hearts at Home conference, I have had a visual image in my mind of fires consuming forests, houses and families. Nicole Johnson did a dramatic presentation on the topic of James 3, “Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

While traveling to the conference, there were two visual images glaring at me from my life. The first was that of me yelling at my husband from a couple of weeks ago when we met at the gas station after church to fill both vehicles up with gasoline for the week. I had just begun filling up the tank on the vehicle I was driving. I was reflecting on the morning’s message and making faces at my girls while smiling as they waited in the vehicles. While my husband begins to fill the vehicle he is driving, I hear him direct a question towards me. “Are you tired?”

I couldn't help but think, Did he not see me smiling and in a strangely good mood? Was it not obvious that I was enjoying my children and enjoying life? “No, I’m not tired,” I responded. “Why?”

I looked at him in disbelief as he shared more about his inquisition. “Well, you were swerving and hugging the white line and tailgating the person in front of you.”

Was he serious? “If you are attempting to start a fight right here in this parking lot...,” I retorted, "...fine!" I got in the van and pulled away.

I simply could not believe that he was disguising a criticism as a concern! Entering our home, I got the baby situated and waited the good 5-10 minutes preparing to greet him with my choice words when he walked in the door. The girls were in the garage taking off their shoes when I laid into him. (Really, it didn’t matter that the girls were in the garage. It just makes it sound better to tell the story as though I was concerned as to whether or not they would hear what I would say next. Fact is, they probably could have been down the street and heard what I had to say.)

My husband had not even completely closed the garage door when I let him have it. “Next time you choose to wrap a criticism in a concern for my well-being - don’t... just tell me that you think I drive recklessly.”

My husband immediately went on the defense. (I'm not really certain what other position there would be to take in his situation.) “That’s not what I was doing. I truly was concerned.”

I could not believe that he was going to try to convince me that it was anything more worthy than the attack on me that it truly was! “You were not concerned about me. You just think that because you don’t yell like I do and the fact that you can sugar coat it as though you care about my safety, then it’s not a criticism. Well, next week, if you would like to drive the car home with all the kids in it and allow me to drive your vehicle home in peace and quiet, we can just plan on that…”

I continued on but he decided to come clean (from my perspective). “Fine,” he cut me off, “next time I’ll just tell you that I think you drive recklessly.”

Never did I really think he’d own up. (Although it would seem like I just won and this would all be over, I didn't let it drop.) “Good. That way when I bite your head off, I won’t have to feel guilty about it. Just because I don’t drive like a Grandpa…”

The picture doesn’t get any prettier. The worst part is that I chose to paint this picture. I have a choice as to what pictures I will paint in a day with the words I will use and yet I choose destruction.

“I am an arsonist,” I heard the speaker say as the mental images changed in my mind. This time it was of my sweet baby girl. The picture of my 18-month-old’s bottom lip turning to an upside down frown and beginning to quiver was vivid in my mind

She had pulled my glasses off the end of the counter thinking they were play glasses she could wear. If she hadn’t twisted them up so I now have to wear them perched on my nose with only the right frame tucked snuggly behind my ear, it would have likely been a Kodak moment. I was furious! We try so hard to save money and this little booger took the glasses I left where they don’t belong… my fault, self-control gained… for the moment.

Upon returning from picking up my preschooler for lunch, we came home to where I had chicken nuggets cooling on the counter. (Thankfully, the dog had not discovered this treasure while we were gone.) While instructing my 4-year-old on where to place all of her belongings, I noticed my toddler, with the empty plate in hand and the dog eating nuggets off the floor beside her. The dog not stealing the food made sense now - the baby was her partner in crime - all she had to do was wait!

I felt the volcano errupt! I yelled as I tossed the dog in the garage and went over and grabbed the dish from my little girl. I actually considered what I was about to do before I did it - but I did it anyway. It was going to make me feel better to yell. So I spewed lava all over my baby girl.

It didn’t make me feel better. It just made me want to crawl into a hole.

I watched as her little lip stuck out and she began to cry all the while looking for comfort from her blanket. I picked her up and cuddled her in my arms as I wondered, "What in the world is my problem?"

“My words came out and now were inside of her hurting and burning...” I listened further to the sketch. Nicole Johnson talked about the visual picture of a little girl who was burned in a house fire and how that image would continually remind her of the damage we do every time we take out our issues on those we love the very most.

I came home with new mental images in my mind and grabbing hold of my heart. I am considering framing a picture of a house fire in my kitchen (where I spend the most time) to remind me that my words burn.

“Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” - James 3

1 comment:

  1. For those of you wondering, Rod gave me his permission to post this.