It had been one of those weeks. Or months. Take your pick, it made no difference which.
Every little thing seemed to tick me off. Things not done right, words spoken out of step. I needed the slightest excuse to spark off an argument. The fights would eventually settle into a brief mending and a fleeting, shaky peace that easily gave way to strife again once the next trigger appeared. Finally when TJ got tired of giving in, we sat in separate rooms stewing alone in bitter resentment and injustice.
I didn’t know what was going on. All I knew was that I could see nothing beyond my own need for comfort and affirmation.
When my husband was around, my belligerence and eagerness to pick a fight sent him scampering for cover and solitude. When alone, my tears and broken cries to God as I knelt by the bed did little to fill the emptiness and despair within.
I buried myself in mindless tasks to escape the void. Desperate for a word of comfort and strength, I plugged in a sermon message and let it play as I worked. And plugged into another when it finished.
When TJ got home, I instinctively made a quick excuse of bringing the dog out for a walk, wary of another fight. As I dodged his gaze and went about getting ready, a harrowing thought arose in my head: what if he asks to come along?
I made a quick and silent deal with the Lord. Ok Lord, if he asks to come, fine, but if he doesn’t, then so be it, certain that my insipid guy would see me out the door without so much as a peep.
Just as I was taking the leash, my man spoke: “Can I join you guys?” Thankfully, my back was turned, and I could simply utter a nonchalant “Fine” as I waited for him to put his shoes back on.
As we plodded along in silence for the first 15 minutes, I steeled myself for another lengthy dissection of the previous day’s altercation. Though the silence scratched at me, I willed myself not to be the first to speak again. I was glad for our dog’s company as a welcome distraction.
Finally, after an eternity, my life companion beside me broke the silence. “Darling, I know things haven’t been great. I don’t want to sweep things under the carpet, but I also don’t want to spend all our time arguing about things that don’t matter and missing out on all the wonderful stuff that the Lord has put in front of us. Look at all the things that He has already done for us, and how far He has brought us. We may still have some way to go, but we will get there. Jesus will get us there.”
After all the mess, a reminder that I so desperately needed. After a long pause, I asked, “Do you regret being with me?”
He blinked in surprise. “No, of course I don’t. You are the greatest blessing that God has given to me. I just want to focus on enjoying all of our time together.”
And in that moment, as tears rolled down my eyes widened in wonder and I let my husband take my hand, God poured grace into my tantrum.
We have all messed up, one way or another, at one time or another. Others may beat us up over it, or we may beat others up to cover up for it, making excuses ranging from unmet expectations to stressful circumstances to other extenuating factors. But deep down inside we will always be painfully aware of it, and more often than not we will beat ourselves up because of it.
And we will wonder, how can anyone love us when we are so unlovable?
But the truth is, there will always be someone. Whether you have stumbled into the new year feeling like you’ve messed up the last year, or if you feel like your life’s ok on the outside but inexplicably crumbling and void on the inside, or if you just feel plain unlovable at times, know this: you are precious, and you are a precious blessing to someone.
It may well be your family. Your spouse. Your children. Your friend. Your co-worker. Or even someone you smiled at along your way today.
Most of the time, our value to those around us is tied to kind deeds or words done or spoken to them. But there will always be One, at the very most, to whom you are most precious. Not because of anything you have done, but purely by your existence.
At your most unlovable, God sent His very own Son Jesus to die for you on the cross, just so that you could enjoy an everlasting life with Him. All because He loved you.
So as you step into this new year, remember that there is always Someone who loves you. Whether you mess up or not. His name is Jesus.
Because when we encounter Jesus, we encounter grace.