Sunday, February 24, 2008

i'm gonna let my freedom ring

Okay...I have to do this. I have to go back to one of the worst weeks in recent Jenna history. It's imperative for two reasons. First, I mentioned in the "battling bugs" post that I would write more about what I learned that week. And second, it's for my own good to go back and relive some of these moments and then make myself articulate the thoughts. So many times, an experience will conjur a half-baked epiphany and the concepts can linger out there unformed, incomplete and I'll just lose them. I don't want that to happen.

So, let's go back to those dark days. It started with an ache in my back. The kind that accompanies a low grade fever. Just slightly achy. Then Miles was hit with high fevers and sick stomach. Then Avery passed out at school the next day. Then his fevers came. Two down. I was still just feeling under the weather. And you all know Brent was hit with this thing. High fevers, major chills, ralphed a bit, finally diagnosed with pneumonia, suffered from severe side effects from the antibiotics. Brent was down for a week. Me? Low grade fever and achiness.

So, faced with the blessing of being well enough to take care of my family, do you know what my attitude was? I'll tell you. I was bitter. BITTER. I just wished I would get my fair share of illness and go to bed like everyone else. It was ridiculous, I know. Okay. So, note that. I was bitter.

Now, somewhere in the middle of this, I had an interaction with a friend. A friend whom I love dearly. Well, she said something that rubbed me the wrong way and I wasted a day stewing about it. Really. It's embarrassing to admit this. Anyway, the next day, we spoke again and I brought it up. I should have given her grace and I didn't. I don't even want to relive the conversation in my mind, much less try to recap it here. I'll just say that I injured our friendship. Not for good by any means, but goodness. I was ungracious. So, note that. I was ungracious.

What else happened that week? I found out that I had offended someone. I was really so embarrassed that I didn't even tell Brent at first. Now, this shouldn't really surprise anyone, because I'm a nervous motormouth. I get a wee bit anxious, I start talking, er, rambling, and , something has leapt from my mouth that I instantly regret. But, this wasn't the case. I was actually trying to be sensative and sympathetic, but the result was a sting to my friend's soul. The problem was that I assumed something about her. And we ALL know what happens when you assume. Please note that I made an assumption which resulted in a friends pain.

Then Jillian got sick. And she was teething. One night, I think I accumulated like 2 and 1/2 hours of sleep. We're talking grand total here.

So, I told you that I was bitter that I was the only healthy being in my house. But, did I tell you how incredibly frustrated with Brent I was? Oh man. I wished he would just frip-frappin' get healthy. One night, he had the chills so badly that I woke up to the bed shaking. Remember those beds in hotels in the 80s that you could put a quarter in and they'd shake? I have a vague memory of a bed like that when I was a kid. It wasn't sleezy. I was on a road trip with my family. Anyway, that's what it felt like. The whole bed was vibrating. I was so annoyed. My husband is waking me up in the night??? Please note that I had almost ZERO sympathy for my husband.

Did I tell you that friends brought us amazing home made chicken noodle soup? Did I tell you that my sister, who is the busiest person I know, ran to the grocery store for us in those wickedly freezing temps (were talking wind chill of 40 below, folks), WITH her TODDLER? Did I tell you that people were so sympathetic and kind to me and my sick family? My mother-in-law even sent flowers!

So let me recap to make sure I'm recalling my depravity in full. I was ungracious to my friend, I was an idiot to another friend in my assumption, I was unsympathetic to my husband, I was ungrateful to God for the blessings he poured out to us, OH. Yep. I forgot one thing. This is the one that sent me over the edge. I lied. I told someone a lie. It wasn't a huge lie, but it was a lie and I was in a sticky mess. By the way, I DO NOT MAKE A HABIT OF THIS. And, so, I was sick to my stomach. I frantically called a friend, told her the situation, which was complicated. She agreed that it wasn't an easy fix and said, "Well, you could start with prayer. You can confess it to God."

and then it hit me: I crave what only God can give me in Jesus. I want to be washed clean of all my guilt. (And I was well-aware of most of it.) I want forgiveness.

I thought my heart was going to leap out of my chest. Free. I felt free. I am free. In one moment, I felt like I was in chains and the next, I was free. I recalled a verse I've memorized this year, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness."

This means so little to one who is aware of a little sin in their life.

But, I had been overwhelmed with my sin, and heavily burdened, and it felt so good to take on the yoke of Christ. Much lighter. Very easy.

Epilogue: First, my fever broke the moment I longed for forgiveness more than anything. Seriously. Second, I was humbled and truly, my attitude changed for the good towards my dear husband. Third, I want to remember my depravity and the grace of God. I don't want to forget how ugly I was, how hopeless I felt and how relieved I was when I remembered the forgiveness I already had in Christ. Because, fourth, I'm going to be failing daily.

Well. goodness. And I thought showing you that ugly wall would make me feel vulnerable...


Dawn Shelton said...

aw, Jenna. You are so sweet to share your heart with us. If it makes you feel better, my hubby kept telling me how badly his throat hurt all week (we both have colds) and I was, like "yeah, yeah, we are both sick, I know" and then, in the middle of the night Friday night I got up to go to the bathroom and realized I couldn't swallow. OUCH! As I came back to bed Lee said, "are you ok?" I said, "yeah, i just woke up with a really sore throat. Is this what you have been talking about?" and he said, "yeah!" and I said, "oh, gosh I am sorry I wasn't nicer because this hurts like heck!" and he chuckled and we went back to sleep. I still have a sore throat and his is better.

Dawn Shelton said...

OH! AND get this - he keeps turning away from my kisses - I am like, "YOU KISSED ME ALL WEEK LONG AND YOU WERE SICK!" and he says, "yeah, but I don't want it again!" ugh. SO it goes.

Tiffany said...

Jenna! I am feeling like a terrible friend right now. Was I THAT oblivious to the severity of your emotional state? Apparently I am more self absorbed than I thought. I knew you all were sick, but why did I not know how terrible you were feeling? Well, my dear friend, forgive me and I'm glad you are feeling better and that the Lord taught you something through this. God IS good even in the dark times. Thanks for making yourself vulnerable to the world. It's an encouragement to me!

The Evans Family said...

As I was reading I chuckled, thinking about the times I have had the very same attitude. We serve a wonderful God, and I am blessed to call you friend. You bless me with your humor and you bless me with your vulnerability. You.are.a.blessing.

Jenny said...

Love your honesty. Love what God is teaching you. Your post sounds eerily like my own attitude at times, and it's SO right(and simple) to focus on asking for forgiveness when we sin. Like, duh! But it's not what I think about right away, sadly... thanks for the great encouragement, friend! His mercies are new every morning.

Joel said...

Man, now I feel so guilty for not helping you guys out. Thanks for ruining my day.

Joel said...

Just kidding. What a great blog.
We love your honesty and bluntness, humility and carefulness.

Rachel said...

I love the freedom. Thanks for this lovely and encouraging post. You are adorable. Oh, and I love how you change your author picture on a regular basis.

Kelly said...

Thanks Jenna...I needed that! I could've written a very similar post this week...wouldn't have been as humorous as yours though. Thanks for the reminder!

Ramona Lisa said...

Thank you so much for sharing your experience, revelation and redemption. What a real example of what we all go through, yet rarely admit (especially publicly). Your strength and honesty is inspiring. Love you!