I lied to her.
“I write about the old stuff, not the stuff I’m still working through,” I said to my girlfriend as I rattled on about some mumbo-jumbo, fluff-talk about the craft of writing and engaging a reader.
Just last week, I stared Evil in the face.
Why I lied to her, I’m not sure. It was insignificant. It warranted no immediate benefit to the conversation or to her.
It did, however, protect me from owning the pain that lingers inside me.
Earlier last week week, I took my children out for a celebration dinner. My daughter had a success at school, her daddy was working a second job, and the local restaurant offered free meals to children: perfect fit.
Our waitress seated us, we settled, placed our order, and then waited.
Taking three children, five and under, to a restaurant by oneself is, to say the least, daring. I wanted to please my daughter, but I need to be honest; this was a selfish move. Eating out means I don’t have clean-up duty.
Motherhood is like that some days. 🙂
I supposed fatherhood is like that some days, too, as I noticed a father of three seated right next to our booth, especially as he barked at two of the three girls, ordering them to be seated, be still, put their coats on the seat, stop touching the salt and pepper shakers.
Somehow I felt comfort knowing that I was in the same boat with someone else
Without much waiting, our waitress brought our food and within minutes the inevitable happened.
“Mommy, I have to use the restroom, and it’s URGENT!”
Nothing makes me sin faster than taking my three children–by myself– into a public restroom–let alone this particular restroom. It’s poorly lit, the stalls cramped, the floors grimy, and the smell horrifying. Consistently it’s a vulgar place to eliminate, let alone, to take curious must-touch-everything children.
Gruff would be a pleasant way to describe my demeanor in the restroom.
Back at the table, I confessed my angry attitude, asked for forgiveness, and re-engaged with my children’s conversation, not noticing that my eldest was staring at the father’s table behind her.
“Please turn around. It’s rude to stare,” I said, trying to be as quiet as possible.
“Well, I’m glad I don’t have a daddy like HIM!” she said loud enough to be heard.
Talk about wanting to crawl under a table.
“Being a parent is a hard job, sweetie. And sometimes, we get a little grumpy,” I said.
“Well, he’s MEAN!” she said. She wanted him to hear.
My stomach wrenched.
“Well, if you remember correctly, I was just mean to you in the bathroom, remember? And I had to ask for forgiveness,” saying the first part a little louder and hoping that if they heard her that they would also hear me being compassionate, not judgmental.
“I know, mommy, and we forgave you,” she said, putting more food in her mouth and forgetting the mean daddy behind her.
Relieved that she dropped the conversation, I allowed my eyes to lift from our table and into the mean-daddy table.
All six-foot-six of him loomed over the older daughter, maybe six years old, as she cowered in the corner of the booth. His hand clutched her arm, and I caught the middle part of his threat by reading his lips over clenched teeth, “… or I’ll beat your ***”
Wide-eyed disbelief plastered my outward countenance while watching my childhood play out before me–like an annoying rerun–in the flesh, in the now, in the booth adjoining mine.
I was never beaten. In fact, I was never threatened like that, but others in my family were. And I remember that look of fear. The raised shoulder to ear. The tossing of hair to cover the face. The blank, empty stare back at my attempt at a smile toward her when I caught her glance.
To be clear, I don’t know if that father is truly evil. I can’t know the condition of his heart. I am not God.
However, scripture clearly defines the true condition of all men’s hearts as devoid of the Spirit of God: deprave, sinful, evil (see Ro.3.23).
The reality is, even for those of us who have the Spirit of God dwelling within us, we still have a war–the classic good and evil war–raging within us.
So I lied to my girlfriend. Today I wrote about the new, the raw, the unhealed.
Why did I lie?
It’s safer from the shoreline to shout jeers at bad parenting or potential evil.
It’s quite another to be standing in a nasty, unkept restaurant bathroom-of-a-boat and stare Evil in the face.
Today, I’m accepting the dare shake off my religious-arrogance that all is well with me in my own strength. Even though I have salvation, every single moment I am still in need of my Savior, the I AM.
What’s your next step?
When was the last time you allowed yourself to see the real you: not the hurting you; not the refined, polished, trying-to-keep-it-together you? Have you experienced the I AM of the gospel, who not only calms the storm, but also gets in the boat of life with you? Listen closely. In the midst of the storm, He usually says something like, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid” (Mark 6:50). Trust not in your own ability, trust in Him for your every need.