There Are Rats in My Cellar

I owed them an apology.

You could say I lost it.
My husband made a small comment about the status of the–
clutter-dirty-messy-ish-ness of our house…

And I went on a rampage.
I started tossing toys, candy wrappers, shoes, broken pencils, popsicle-stick-art-projects…
And tender emotions–
into the garbage.

I said (or…um…maybe ranted) things like:

How many times do I need to remind you to hang the jackets up as soon as we walk in the door?

Do you think I enjoy scratching stickers off of windows !?!

Why in the world would you clean your rock collection in the bathroom sink–that is the only bathroom I actually got cleaned today!?!

Really??? You thought that was clean–clearly that shirt needs to be washed !?!

Really??? You thought that was dirty–do you think I have time to wash clean clothes !?!

And on…and on…and on….
And on.

They stared at me with confused, blank, teary faces.
I wish I could say that I turned things around before bedtime.

But it wasn’t until the next morning that I was ready to face who am I when I don’t let the love of Christ control me. I couldn’t avoid the mantra that kept playing over and over in my mind:

…for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God…
~James 1:19

We just studied that passage.
But why am I continually the one who–

looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like?
~James 1:24

I want to be the one who–

…looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres,
being no hearer who forgets, but a doer who acts.
~James 1:25

And so came the next morning.
And at breakfast I asked for their forgiveness.

Me: “I just want to tell you that I shouldn’t have said those things in the way I said them last night.”

Our child who is most like me: “But you did…”

Me: “I know…and I’m really sorry…will you forgive me?”

Thankfully, there was a resounding YES and hugs and much grace given.

But I read this recently in Nancy Wilson’s book Building Her House and it was so convicting:

A child growing up in a home filled with
selfishness, criticism, impatience, and bitterness
does not flourish…
(parents) fail to realize how potent their words and actions are,
for good or ill…
Nothing we do is neutral;
it will either feed and nourish or starve and impoverish.

It’s easy to excuse the outburst or criticism with so many rationalizations.

But–there is a difference between patient teaching-training and frustrated criticism.

And there is no excuse for sin.
And that’s really what it is.
And the kids can see them–
Those rats in my cellar…

Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard
is the best evidence
for what sort of man he is?
Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth?
If there are rats in the cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly.
But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding.
In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man;
it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am.
~ C.S. Lewis

I don’t want to be a wife and mommy who tears down my house with my own hands (Proverbs 14:1).

Praise God who gives grace and forgiveness.
Praise God who redeems my failures.
Praise God who changes hearts and heals hurts.
Praise God…who sees the rats in my cellar…and still doesn’t give up on me.

My prayer for today and tomorrow…and pretty much forever–

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
~Psalm 19:14

*Photo courtesy of Beverly and Pack.

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Comments

  1. oh ouch. Thanks for the painful and honest reminder. Are you looking in my windows? I still don’t have a curtain on my door… maybe you’ve seen too much?? I am so ugly without Christ.

  2. I can so relate to many similar times at our house. I am not happy about those times, of course. But when they see me apologizing, repentant, and asking forgiveness what an example of God’s redemption they get to see played out. Hopefully they’ll know that they can do the same when they sin, because they WILL sin.

  3. To this day, I have a tendency to only remember the hurtful words others said to me as a child. Can’t seem to recall getting any praise, really (which I know I got too). I think the key here is that no one ever asked forgiveness for those unkind words. Asking forgiveness and admitting a wrong is HUGE! As a kid, that would have done me so much good to hear my parents admit a wrong. In recent years, my mom has called me to apologize about things in the far and recent past. What a balm it has been for our relationship. God is sooo gracious in that he can heal the wounds we’ve received AND the wounds we’ve inflicted.

  4. To this day, I have a tendency to only remember the hurtful words others said to me as a child. Can’t seem to recall getting any praise, really (which I know I got too). I think the key here is that no one ever asked forgiveness for those unkind words. Asking forgiveness and admitting a wrong is HUGE! As a kid, that would have done me so much good to hear my parents admit a wrong. In recent years, my mom has called me to apologize about things in the far and recent past. What a balm it has been for our relationship. God is sooo gracious in that he can heal the wounds we’ve received AND the wounds we’ve inflicted.

  5. Wow, Kara, do we live in the same house??? Only thing is, I’m not so quick to realize how sinful I’ve been and then change my behavior. I love that CS Lewis quote. I’m going to print that out and stick it somewhere I can see it often.

  6. Hi, I’m Tracey. I actually attend your mom and dad’s church in Bend. Your mom and I discovered another connection, my husband works with Riette’s husband. Small world! Anyway, your mom recommended your blog on our church website. Love it! Thank you for this post, so inspiring. I also loved your questions on choosing the best education for our children!
    Tracey Beaird

  7. Thanks so much Tracey…I forwarded your prayer request (that my mom forwarded to me)to Riette this morning (hows that for a chain of forwards? :)
    It was really really encouraging for her to think of all the people that are praying for Daniel. She also wrote a lot of really nice things about you and your family. Hope to meet you someday!

  8. Amy Carmichael had a similar illustration–she said when a cup is jostled, what spills out is what the cup is full of. Is it sweet, cool water? Or bitter bile? This really spoke to me, as I am often jostled, it seems.

  9. I am right there with you sister…with EVERY word! Praise God that He is at work within us (and despite us). I have even tasted the call out by the one who is most like me also (my child, too, extended forgiveness when I asked). XOXO

  10. Amanda Buss says:

    I know that this is an older post…but I just found your blog and the name of this post caught my eye…I was intrigued. As I read this, tears welled up in my eyes, and I felt as though I was looking at my life. This post was so encouraging and such a reminder of true forgiveness and love. I have shared this blog/post with so many people and it has touched them too. The part that really got to my husband and I was from Nancy Wilson’s book…Nothing we do is neutral; it will either feed and nourish or starve and impoverish. Ouch. But TRUE! I have recently been in Christian counseling for anger and depression. This post has been a part of my healing. God has used you! You have a God given gift of writing and thank you for sharing your heart! I visit your blog quite often! Thank you!

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