Monday: When You Feel Defensive

This Morning's Worship Song.

WHEN YOU FEEL DEFENSIVE

A Time to Clean: Day 11

Some days are just hard.

Like that statement came as a surprise! It's true. Life can be overwhelmingly hard sometimes. You have those days when just nothing goes right. You don't sleep well. Your husband hurts your feelings and an argument ensues. Your kids don't want to do their chores or their homework. You burn supper. And the dirty dishes seemed to grow on their own in the sink. And to top it all off, the dog puked on the carpet - late at night and you stepped in it.

Okay, so maybe your days are never quite that bad... but maybe you can relate. Let's back up to the part where you argued with your husband over something really stupid. All because you felt defensive about what he said. Maybe he said, "It'd be great if you could get the kids to actually do something around here. This place is a mess!"

And immediately you felt attacked. Even though, maybe he didn't mean it the way you took it. Or maybe he meant it the way you took it, but really, he has no idea what kind of day you had! Because surely if he could have an ounce of empathy he would understand and see things your way.

When shame, past hurts, and emotional issues are all playing a heavy role in your life, it's super easy to get your feelings hurt when your husband mentions anything negative about anything.

Because truly, if you could be perfect you would be.

Perfectionism

I would love to be perfect. Wouldn't that be great? I mean, if I was perfect, my house would be perfect, too, right?

Yes.

Remember how we talked about how expectations can ruin your life? This is such a profound truth so pay attention. When expectations and reality collide, what's left in it's wake can be pretty ugly. Life isn't perfect, and when we allow our idealist expectations to dictate our joy, we are allowing a form of perfectionism to invade our hearts.

I had never considered myself to be a perfectionist. One look at my nightstand {on most days} and you'd realize that. Compared to my husband's spotless nightstand... yeah. Most days I wonder why I can't just "get my act together."

But the truth is, I still have this idea in my mind of what my dream life should look like... and messy nightstands, piles of dirty dishes, and mountains of dirty laundry just really don't find a place in my dream. Not only that, but in my dream life, everything about my life would be all rosy and happy all the time. No one would ever have a bad day. Like ever. We'd all talk in pleasant tones with laughter and smiles all day long. The dog would never ever tear things up. My bathrooms would never be dirty. Ever.

Yes, it would be nice, don't you think?

That's not real life, y'all.

Beauty in the Mess

Where's the beauty in the mess? Is there beauty in the mess?

There is beauty in the struggle. There is beauty in the pain. There is beauty in raw humanity. It's the struggle that gives us a reason to depend wholeheartedly on Christ. Perhaps it's not the beauty we would have chosen, but this life has a beauty all of it's own.

Sort of like when Mykal and I first got married and we moved from Georgia out to the Mojave Desert in Arizona. I lived in this little house with tumbleweeds and dirt for a front yard and a view of the Dead Mountains. Coming from the green beauty of the East, the desert with it's scorching, hot days, little rain, and lots of dust wasn't really part of what I had expected in this life. It wasn't my first choice. In fact moving there wasn't my choice. I cried when we pulled off the highway and onto that little dirt road looking for the house I had not even seen a picture of.

Happy Valley Road.

I could have chosen to be miserable. I could have chosen to dig in my heels and tell God exactly what I thought about His plans. And I certainly thought about it! But the truth is, those two years were some of the happiest years of my life... living on Happy Valley Road. I learned to love the beauty I found there even if it was different from what I had planned.

Life doesn't have to be perfect to be amazing. One moment of one day - or one day of one week - or one week of one month... one year... doesn't have to mean you're life is a total mess. You can choose to be happy anyway.

On Being Defensive

It's easy when we look at ourselves as wretched, imperfect people to assume that everyone else looks at us the same way. It's easy to assume your husband thinks your ugly, fat, a screw up, or messy when that's how you see yourself. You see, expectations can be good or bad. We can expect the worst. We can expect the best. We expect others to see us the same way we see ourselves. And when all we see when we look in the mirror is shame, that's what we expect others to see too.

It all boils down to shame. Shame is a tool Satan uses to keep up chained to the pain of the past. And it can ruin marriages. It can ruin your life if you don't learn to forgive yourself. When you feel unlovable, you find it hard to believe that anyone could really love the real you. And so you put up your defenses because you don't want to be hurt any more.

But it still hurts.

It's time to give all of the hurt and pain and shame and disappointment and discouragement and mess to God. Because He doesn't want you to feel defensive. He wants you to feel whole. He wants you to be okay - not with your sin - but with yourself. He wants you to love yourself enough to let others love you, too. He wants you to love yourself enough to not feel shame every time the house gets a little cluttered or chaotic. Real people have bad days. One bad day doesn't mean you're a failure. It just means you had a bad day.

And that's okay.

Today's Goal

  • Think about your expectations. Are your expectations - good or bad - stealing your joy?
  • Pray about making hard decisions – about what things you should keep, preserve, or let go.
  • This week we're working in our Living Rooms and Family Rooms. Do as much as you can to fill a bag with clutter and clean these areas from top to bottom.
  • This week we want to continue with the routine of of going to bed with a clean kitchen, sparkling sink, and clear counters if you aren't in this habit already as well as making sure your bedroom is neat before you turn in at night.
  • Fill at least one bag or box full of stuff to give away.
  • Take a picture of your bag. Share it in our Facebook group and Instagram if you life - use hashtag #atimetoclean
  • Do your best to wake up early tomorrow, read tomorrow's lesson and spend time in prayer.

How are your expectations impacting your life right now?