We hear it all the time, don't we--"Stand up for yourself," "Stand up for what you believe in," and "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything." We see "standing up" as a show of strength and character but "sitting down" as giving up, resigning to a lesser fate. And that message of our society resonates with our sinful, selfish hearts, doesn't it? It sure does, mine. I HATE to give in! What about you?
And yet God calls us to submit--to His Word, the government, employers, church leaders, husbands, parents, and even one another. This kind of submission sometimes requires us to simply sit down. If someone's opinion crosses yours, you don't have to let them know. Really. (I'm trying to convince myself of this--I know it's hard!)
In my reflections of growing up in the church, family, school, etc., in which I did, I sometimes feel like the emphasis was much more on the externals than truly having the right heart attitude inside. However, at times I'm more inclined to think maybe they tried, and I just didn't get it. One example is the illustration I heard dozens of times from the pastor of my church; to fully appreciate it, you must imagine a hard-faced preacher with a deep southern drawl:
"The boy's father kept telling him to sit down, and finally, the boy folded his arms, set his jaw, and plunked down onto the chair. He looked up at his dad and said, 'I may be sittin' down on the outside, but I'm standin' up on the inside!'"
Is that you? So many times, that truly is me. And the saddest part is, that most times, I feel like I'm good! After all, I am sitting down on the outside, aren't I?
Tuesday night was such an example. For the past couple weeks, I've been privileged to have some freelance writing gigs to bring in some extra money. (And if you've been following my posts at all, you know that finances have been a struggle for our family, particularly this past year.) The pay isn't great, to be honest, although I hope it will improve as I prove myself and get offered higher paying jobs and as I get faster at this kind of writing. Anyhow, it's taken up a lot of my time, and my family has suffered. House work has been lacking, since I've used nap time and after bedtime hours to do my writing instead of laundry and other tasks. But with my first deadline looming over me this week, I started working in the mornings, too, holing myself in our bedroom/baby nursery/office until lunch.
Jonathan and I had decided that pushing myself for these first projects was a wise idea, but it was clearly wearing on us both. I knew he liked the living area and kitchen tidy when he got home each night, but that just wasn't happening. And my new-found coupon habit was overtaking our kitchen table, which is an area he specifically likes kept neat.
Well, Tuesday, after lunch, I put the boys down for their naps and chose that brief, just-us time of day to mention that I had another longer gig come up, if I wanted it. But I needed his help a little more, with some housework, to make it all make sense. I thought this was reasonable, and it would be unwise to say no to extra work. But he said no! I sat down on the outside, meaning that I didn't argue with him or go against his wishes, but boy, was I standing up on the inside!
I didn't talk to him again before he left, and I'm sure he knew that I was fuming! The thoughts that ran through my head, the arguments for why his choice was foolish, just begged to be let out. I didn't let them, though, and I felt proud of myself for that. I tried repenting, but God and I both knew I wasn't sorry. How could I be--I was right! I finally got calmed down enough to straighten up before Jonathan came home. Still standing up on the inside, though, and hoping for a chance to state my case.
Before I had a chance, he said,"I've been thinking more about you taking on that work, and it's fine." He looked at me, the rims around his eyes growing red. "It's just that you have to spread it out more. I miss my best friend."
My heart just melted! What love!
He went on to explain,"I love our boys, and I don't mind doing more to help out, but I want to do it with you, not to have you gone the whole time that I'm home."
Okay, I was wanting him to be reasonable, but he was reasoning with his heart. To him, this issue was about our relationship, and he missed it. Why would I resist that kind of love?
How like our Heavenly Father! When we "sit down" to his will on the outside, but insist on our own way, we are so foolish! He doesn't just want outward submission; that isn't part of a close relationship. We have to truly sit down.
(Now I have to stand up and clear off this table, though, before my hubby gets home!)