DO do what you need to do in me


Rose Jackson © 9-11-2008
(This is my final post in the mind category. Can you tell what I struggle with most? Pictured are the two sources of my consternation/inspiration in this morning’s word from God to me – no, not my husband and our son!)

I’m just not the bling and frou-frou kind of girl. I do like to get dressed up, and I enjoy wearing jewelry and perfume, but I’m just not a ruffles and matching purse/matching shoes/matching nail polish/matching bling woman. I’m not even sure I’d feel comfortable doing that if I could afford to (which I can’t). I hear from God in analogies, and while I admire other speakers who get to deliver the pretty boxes with ribbons and bows kinds of messages, God never seems to speak to me through pretty, girlie things. I “hear” him through tent stakes, roller coasters, and cheese burgers. Nevertheless, I was surprised this morning by what God used to teach me something: dog doo-doo.

All I intended to do in the yard this morning was take advantage of rain-dampened ground to pull pesky spurge, the bane of my gardening, from the back yard. Weeding is unpleasant enough, but as I crouched down working my way beyond the orange tree, I came to a huge patch of spurge smack in the middle of a field of doggie doo. Aargh! I don’t dislike dogs, but when our son wanted a pet ten years ago, I voted for a hamster – they only live a couple of years, and they don’t shed all over the house. My husband staunchly vetoed my vote, asserting, “If we’re going to get a pet, it’s only going to be a dog.” This is the otherwise intelligent man who innocently remarked, “Gosh, honey, I didn’t stop to think you’d be the one home with the dog all day,” when we were housebreaking our adorable Springer Spaniel puppy Katie.

Flash forward through ten years of me brushing, feeding, medicine giving, ear cleaning, ball throwing, bone cooking, daily walking, hair vacuuming, and doo-doo picking up. Yes, our son used to do some of the walking and picking up, but he moved away to college four years ago. Yes, my husband occasionally cleans up the back yard and walks the two dogs (we now have our older son’s dog also) maybe two evenings a week and sometimes on Sunday mornings, and yes, he’s the one who works to buy the dog chow and pay the vet bills, but this morning, as usual, I’m the one whose nose is eighteen inches away from the recycled dog chow covering the back yard, and I’m not happy about it.

Two thoughts, “We could hire someone to do the yard work but no, we can’t afford it,” and my habitual complaint, “Why does it have to be me picking up the poo? He has time in the evenings to do a little bit if he really cared. I’m not the one who wanted a dog!” had only briefly, sarcastically flashed through my miffed mind when, on their heels like Katie after a pigeon, came the thought, “Even if you hired someone to pull the weeds AND pick up the doo-doo, it wouldn’t take care of the real issue. What stinks the most is not the doo-doo in the yard, but the. . . .” I knew that idea didn’t come from me! God patiently humors me a lot, and I recognized his heart in the thought. Hiring someone to clean the yard would still leave me with doo-doo in my heart, and a stinky attitude is not what God wants for me, or what I really want myself.

“Okay, I’ve tried the positive thinking thing before,” I countered. “Cleaning up the dog doo is a way to show our son I love him, because he loves the dog. That gets me through three minutes of picking up, maybe. Jesus, I need you to really get hold of my heart in this. This morning I need more than just a cheerful veneer, because I want this change to be lasting. I don’t want weekly deposits of resentment in my heart. I want a clean heart more than I want a weed-free, poo-free yard.”

God gave me the thought, “Bless your husband as you pick up the poo. Yes, I know you’ve tried before, but this morning make it not just words of dry obedience, but truly bless him out of what is unpleasant for you.” So I did. As I looked up from my hands, I saw opportunity all around me for plenty of blessing for his hands! I prayed, “I don’t like what my hands are in right now, but bless the work of his hands today. He works so hard for us. Give him satisfying work to do with his hands, because I know how stressed he feels doing nothing but paperwork. I know I’ve made some stinky choices he has had to ‘pick up.’ This mess reminds me that he hangs in there with me when I’m not so pleasant to deal with.”

I honestly felt a shift in my attitude. That shouldn’t have surprised me, because the Bible is filled with exhortaton like this in 1 Peter 3: 9 to bless others:
“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. “
God moved through my willing-to-change heart. If I bless my husband’s hands as mine are doing something I don’t want to do, then this doo-doo can become a springboard (a Springer board?) for God’s healing change in me.
Can you guess what I heard from my husband that evening? “I had a great day today! I actually got to sit in the cockpit and play with the radio. Maybe next week I’ll get a ride to check things out!” My gosh, God blessed him even as I was praying. Retrospectively, that made the doo-doo duty . . . while not pleasant, even something better: rewarding. I could almost hear the laughter in Heaven. Gosh, God is fun! Why don’t I remember that in the middle of my messes?

Has someone else made choices that leave you with doo-doo to deal with? Gosh, how often do I repay not evil, but just plain annoyance, with evil thoughts and insult?

Please don’t hear what I’m not saying! I’m not promoting co-dependent behavior or cleaning up other people’s messes and removing consequences of poor choices from them. I’m talking about my heart, your heart – how we handle the fallout of choices other people make that impact our lives in burdensome, frustrating, irritating, even painful ways. Society often tells us the answer is to get rid of the doo-dropping person. Sometimes, and in cases of abuse, that is the safe and appropriate thing to do. For most of the messes we deal with, though, that isn’t a good, healthy, or effective solution, and it doesn’t deal with the heart issues that are left behind. Sometimes you can’t change what you have to deal with or get around it: you just have to pick up the doo-doo. But you can choose to bless, which can change you as well.

I can’t get rid of Katie; our son would be crushed, and I’d actually miss her, too. As God revealed to me this morning, though, Katie isn’t the critical issue. It’s my heart that matters to him, and thank God it does! My husband and I can work out the clean-up schedule . . . or I can keep blessing him as Katie drops me reminders!

I write this to share hope and faith with one of you who needs God’s transforming power to turn something stinky in your life into an avenue of blessing and healing for your heart attitude today. I’m confident no women’s ministry director will ever ask me to speak on this topic . . . so this is the only place you’ll hear it.

Maybe one of these days yet God will give me a message through a pretty box with ribbons, or jewelry, or nail polish?

A “ . . . but . . . ” to move: Father, as much as I want to, I don’t have the persistent commitment in myself to change my stinky attitudes – and I admit that sometimes I don’t even want to. I’m quick to spot the doo-doo from other people’s choices and often blind to the messes in my heart, BUT you are kind enough to both reveal them and set me on the path to healing and peace IN mind. I don’t want to live in denial of what’s going on in my life; I want your sound mind and wholesome, positive attitude in everything and with everyone I deal with, even when those things and people don’t change.Thank you that you DO do in me all it takes to transform _________ and ME into an avenue of blessing!

Your own “ . . . but . . . ” to move: Tender Father, I struggle so with a bad attitude over ___________________________ BUT I trust you, and I know you will __________________.

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