The Sacredness of Bad Attitudes

I sit at Panera, laptop open in front of me, staring out the window at snow drifting down.
Drifting white
I come from a morning full of harsh words and impatience, full of angry attitudes and frustrated responses.
Angry child
I watch the fat flakes piling up and am struck by the beauty of the view, struck by the sacredness of a dirty world turning white.
Dirty turning clean
I sift through my memories of this morning and wonder why I am unable to also see those parts of life as sacred.
It is easy to see the sacredness of snow. It is difficult to see the sacredness in a child’s anger.
Fussy child
When life is beautiful, when I gaze at spring flowers or at a little girl reading to her sister, I have no trouble in seeing God.
Acting in love
It is when my children fuss and yell, when they shove each other and bang angry fists on the piano and Mommy hollers back in return, that God seems to vanish.
Acting in anger
Yet if I truly believe that there is no separation between sacred and secular, if I believe that the fullness of life is sacred, if I believe that there is no difference between kneeling before God in prayer and kneeling in service before a dirty toilet…
Then there is sacredness even in my child who is storming away from me in anger and frustration.
There is sacredness in a fussy toddler, in a stubborn preschooler, in a huffy elementary school child.
It is easier to react with impatience than to see God in these things. It is easier to speak harsh words in response than to pause long enough to search for the sacredness and speak words of Love in answer.
Reacting with love
I am trying to figure out how to hold on to the truth that there is no distinction between the sacred and the secular, between the body and the soul. I am trying to figure out how to hold on to the truth that God made this world and made this life and uses every piece of both to bring me to Him.
I am trying to figure out how to “become more fully human, trusting that there is no way to God apart from real life in the real world.”
(Barbara Brown Taylor in An Altar in the World)
It is this, this living of real life in the real world while focusing myself on God, that will change me, change my life, change the way I live my life.
Which, in turn, will bring me closer to God.
And that is indeed truly sacred.
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Comments

  1. Beautiful, Elizabeth, and well written. We can learn much from how Jesus reacted to confrontation. Maybe we need to write with a stick in the dirt before responding and let others, as well as ourselves, find a moment for calmness

  2. These last two posts have really helped me!

    This paragraph is great: “Yet if I truly believe that there is no separation between sacred and secular, if I believe that the fullness of life is sacred, if I believe that there is no difference between kneeling before God in prayer and kneeling in service before a dirty toilet…
    Then there is sacredness even in my child who is storming away from me in anger and frustration.”

    I love that perspective! The next time one of mine has a tantrum I hope I can remember that! : )

    And maybe, also sacredness when I am feeling constantly worried and insecure about raising these kids? Because then I learn to rely more on God and less on myself. And I’m reminded that He is perfect, but thankfully He doesn’t expect me to be!

    Elizabeth, you are so kind, so authentic, such a caring friend. I have found so much comfort, wisdom and encouragement in your blog. Keep writing! Thank you!

    • Yes and yes again. The insecurity can be so very sacred if it reminds you that of the truth that you CAN’T raise those precious babies on your own. AND that God loves them even more than you do and is with them in ways you cannot be. I love you.

  3. i think the sacredness in the examples you gave of the children fighting is that this is an example of the brokenness of GOD’s creation. it is not as it was created. it is not as it was supposed to be. we look all around us and see examples of brokenness. even in a small family where we know the good and right things to do, we don’t always do them.

    as a mom, there are times when i am able to bring a measure of GOD’s goodness and righteousness to a situation. i have the oppotunity to bring grace and love. sometimes i have to bring His justice. but i am there to bring a glimmer of Him into their world. sometimes i do and it is beautiful. sometimes i don’t and i have to apologize and tell them how i failed and why…b/c i took my eyes off jesus.

    realistically, we will fail often. but if we think of what we do as giving our children a picture of who GOD is rather “disciplining” them (which technically is true). it will put the way we do it into a different perspective. we are bringing a touch of GOD into the brokenness all around us.

    imagine if we have that perspective on the way our family relates to the world around us. it removes any sense of self-righteousness doesn’t it?

    i wish i had this perspective more when my kids were young! i didn’t get the whole concept of brokenness and our place in it. that is our ministry! sounds simple. it really isn’t as easy as it sounds.

    • I totally agree that one of the beautiful things we do as parents is showing them God and teaching them how to relate to God. Even when we fail and apologize to them, we are showing them the right way to mess up and how to approach God afterward.

      When I speak of the sacredness in the ugly, I am speaking of the way that God is in the brokenness and the way that He works through the brokenness and makes even that become sacred. When people asked about God or about God’s kingdom, many of Jesus’ own parables used broken people and situations to answer the questions, to show them who God is. Not that the brokenness is sacred in and of itself but that God is in it, just as He is in the perfect, and that God makes it sacred, every bit of this ordinary life we live.

      I’m glad you’re here.

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