Tis’ the season. OK, I’ll be brave enough to just say it. Yes, it’s that time of year when you get UNWANTED HOUSEGUESTS. It happened to me. They showed up unexpectedly a few weeks ago. That’s early by anyone’s standards of coming for the holidays. But I kicked them out! Yup! It felt GOOOOOOD! Let me tell you how and what happened:
A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were in the house alone, but then, just as quickly, we weren’t. All of a sudden, this uninvited couple showed up at the door. They were sly and managed to slide in really quickly before we could get the door shut on them. I don’t think either my husband or myself intended or ever implied that they were welcome. They certainly didn’t call before and ask if they could come, we surely would have said a resounding no, but yet, there they sat on my couch, grinning.
Just like pushy in-laws sometimes do, they weren’t content to just BE at my house. They wanted more. They intended to move in and get comfortable, to stay awhile. As for us, we were too shocked at their boldness to tell them “No!” Not wanting to “put us out”, they pushed on in and insisted we just continue what we were already doing. My husband and I had been talking. He was catching me up on his week and I, him on some issues that were going on with one of our kids. I sat dumbfounded as they interrupted us and happily chimed in, helping twist the parenting issue into something bigger and much more ominous. One involving ultimatums and the angry words “always” and “never”. I was mad and confused as I sat on my side listening to them and thinking “Who do they think they are? What just happened here? How long are they staying? Can I boot them out now?!” I’ll bet by now you are wondering who they are- these unwanted houseguests of mine? Well, you will probably recognize them by the names Offense and Hurt Feelings.
Offense grew bolder and came to sit by my husband on the couch. The more they talked, the more they agreed and the stronger the bond between them grew. Hurt Feelings patted my shoulder, gave me a tissue and offered to listen to my side because I was, obviously, the injured party. Soon, my husband and I weren’t the cohesive unit, they were. He and Offense. Then, me and Hurt Feelings. The sympathy from them felt good…and the distance between me and my husband felt…right somehow. Neither my husband, nor I could understand what had just happened to drive the wedge so quickly, but our houseguests just smiled and immediately started making themselves more at home. They asked which room was theirs and began unpacking their junk.
I was with some friends a few days later and heard Graham Cooke speak. He talked about refusing to accept someone as an enemy. A man had approached him with offense and enmity in his heart. Graham’s response to the man was shockingly Jesus-like. “No. Sorry. I’m not in the market for enemies. You can’t be my enemy unless I receive you as one.” What? Are you serious? We get to say that??? Yes! We do! We can!
I don’t know about you, but I seem to spend so much time on reacting to whatever the devil throws my way, via people I come in contact with. I feel like the little silver ball in a pinball machine some days. What should my response be to this person because they’ve said this? How do I get along with them when they are doing that? The list goes on. I am an introvert, by nature. When I take a verbal “hit” from someone, I get really quiet. I tend to spend a lot of time rehearsing and rehashing things in my head that are always better left alone. Thankfully, when I submit myself and my problems to Jesus, he helps me stop that cycle and find my voice. And, unlike what happened with my husband and our unwanted houseguests, the presence of Jesus’ voice in my home and in my conversation always brings peace. Jesus has given me the choice to just refuse to buy into or go along with whatever lie, scheme, plan or whomever the devil tries to send to hurt me. Jesus’ power is always greater. I can respond from the goodness of God and the constant presence of Emmanuel, God with us. Deep, cleansing breath here.
One of the questions I tried to mull over after hearing this new approach was: “How do I respond to this ugly situation with the sheer goodness of God?” So the first night, I concentrated on God’s goodness and how I could show that to my husband. Suddenly, it was easier to serve my husband in love without complaining and being hypocritical. I was determined as I tried to think of ways that I could go the extra mile to show him that I did not, would not, receive him as my enemy. It was easy with God’s help -kind of fun, even, when it started messing with his head. OK – I never said I was perfect…LOL.
As I put my foot down and stopped feeding Offense, he grew hungry and became angry and threatened to cause a scene. Yawn. Hurt Feelings got her feelings hurt (of course) at being ignored and threatened to leave. Excellent. Buh-Bye! I prayed for more help and Jesus provided Peace and Love Never Fails as my armed guard escorts to watch my unwanted guests pack their things and leave our house. As they left, they made one last grab at Peace, but Love Never Fails quickly overwhelmed them.
This season, you will have many opportunities to let these two thugs into your house. Be careful, they might show up using different aliases, such as “You Always” and “You Never”, but know them for what they are: Offense and Hurt Feelings. You have the choice. You don’t have to let them come in. If they’ve already wormed their way into your house, respond to them with the overwhelming goodness of God.
Please understand that I’m not saying don’t answer the doorbell when it rings this season. I’m just saying, look through the peephole first, say a prayer for wisdom, and then decide. OK, stop that! I saw you smiling! Yes, you! If it’s your in-laws, yes, you have to let them in! Really!
Whew! And it’s not even Thanksgiving yet! ~Debbie Bouckley
Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. -Psalm 119:165
Heavenly wisdom centers on purity, peace, gentleness, deference, mercy, and other good fruits untainted by hypocrisy. The seed that flowers into righteousness will always be planted in peace by those who embrace peace. -James 3:17-18
You may think that the situation is hopeless, but God gives us more grace when we turn away from our own interests. That’s why Scripture says,God opposes the proud, but He pours out grace on the humble. So submit yourselves to the one true God and fight against the devil and his schemes.If you do, he will run away in failure. Come close to the one true God, and He will draw close to you. -James 4:6-8
But the Eternal’s goodness is not exclusive—it is offered freely to all. His mercy extends to all His creation. -Psalm 145:9
My children, you have come from God and have conquered these spirits because the One who lives within you is greater than the one in this world.- 1 John 4:4