Friday, June 17, 2011

Keeping It Real In The Face Of Personal Failure

I am going to keep it real with you today because I did something I am ashamed of last night and I want to learn from it. I have been helping my wife out at the gym, coming up with a plan for her weight training and encouraging her while she does it. She had a rather hard and exhausting day yesterday, leading the Sports Day at school. She really didn't feel like going to the gym last night but I know that discipline requires us to push past what we feel in order to do what is best. So, I convinced her to go.

She was a real trooper about it, reminding me she was tired but working through each exercise. She wanted to skip the cardio part of it but I reminded her of the importance of the cardio in her weight loss program. Seriously, I am telling you, physical fitness is all about discipline and pushing our bodies to go places they just don't want to go. So this is what I have been helping my wife do.

We were on the last exercise before the cardio. It was a simple exercise for the calves because it was her day for legs. She doesn't like the machine that was designed for this exercise because it leaves marks on her shoulders for a day or two so I decided to have her use a leg press machine. I put the amount of weight she would normal do on the other machine and told her to give it a go. She gave it a go but said it was too heavy. I told her she could do this and moved in to help her a bit. She honestly tried but then gave up saying it was hurting her back. That's when the ugly thing happened.

What I should have done was taken her day into consideration, remembered that she had been telling me she was tired, and considered for a moment the different purposes of the two machines I was comparing. I should have also trusted my wife, that if she said it hurt then it must be hurting. I should have either said we had done enough for the day or simply reduced the weight. That's what I should have done.

Instead, I allowed myself to get angry with her. I use the word allowed because over the years I have learned to deal with anger and how to not allow it to possess me. People refer to me as a very patient man and that is exactly what I want to be. Yet, in this moment, with the person I love more than any other, I allowed anger to possess me. I didn't yell, didn't scream, didn't throw anything, but I did speak to her in such a way that she knew I was angry. I wanted her to know I was angry. I didn't reassure her, didn't speak kindly to her, didn't smile, instead I backed off emotionally and left her alone.

This upsets me that I allowed this to happen, not because I am perfect but because this is a lesson I learned a long time ago. Anger for me is a negative and useless emotion in most cases. It does not belong to someone of my maturity or position in life. In other words, anger is beneath me. I married a younger wife and my place is to love, support, encourage and respect her, yet anger undermines all of that. It goes against one of the basic principles of my life:

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself. (Romans 15:1-3)

Now don't misunderstand what I am saying here. I do not consider my wife weak, far from it. She is one of the strongest ladies I know and her maturity is way beyond her years. She is my equal partner and I have nothing but admiration and respect for her. Yet the reality is that there are weaknesses and strengths in all of us. Where we are weak we need people to be patient with us. Where we are strong we need to have patience with others. This is how the Body of Christ functions and why people of such diversity are able to work with each other and love one another.

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.

My life has been based on the principle of the strong protecting the weak, the mature being patient with the immature, the wise putting up with the not so wise, of serving others instead of pleasing myself. I teach my boys that they have the strength they have to protect those who lack that strength; that they are never to lord it over anyone, but instead to see themselves as a servant to others. Maybe then you can see how I failed myself last night, giving in to the temptation of anger instead of allowing the Christ in me to rise up. I failed and caused hurt where there had been joy and I am sorry for it.

Now I have the choice of wallowing around in that all day, allowing my emotions to nullify anything good that God wants to do in me and through me today, or, I can accept the forgiveness of God and my wife and move forward. We all have the responsibility of dealing with things and moving forward. We must always be moving forward. It is a lesson I need to keep close to my heart, understanding that I must still remain on guard against such moments, but it is not something to die in. There are moments of weakness when we fail in temptation but out of these failures we learn and grow. That is my desire today, to learn and grow. May God receive all the glory in the good and bad moments of this day, and may forgiveness freely flow for one another. Amen!

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