Tucker, our almost nine-year-old dog, is developing some disgusting habits in his old age. One of them is what we refer to as “leakages,” which is where he will leak out some excrement when he barks. Recently, I found this on the sheets of our bed.
Normally, a germophobe like me would have ripped off those sheets and burned them immediately. Yet on this particular day my head was pounding and my body aching. I had chills, was experiencing nausea, and knew there was only a small window of time to lie down before the kids would find me. So I pushed the dirty sheets to the opposite side of the bed and quickly fell asleep, using parts of the sheets that were (relatively) clean. My excuse of being ill doesn’t justify my choice not to change the sheets, nor did it make the mess disappear. I was lazy, and ignoring the nasty stain was the easy choice. It might have been a little painful, but I should have changed the sheets.
Many years ago I met a sweet girl who quickly became my “frenemy.” While I was her friend in appearance, the reality was, she was so annoyingly perfect that I viewed her as a threat to all my future happiness. Not that as a teenager I knew what future happiness meant, but no matter how elusive the concept, I convinced myself she had the ability to steal mine.
Disclaimer: for those of you who don’t know me personally, I am the type of person who loves everyone and never meets a stranger. My feelings toward her were unusually and uniquely hostile.
Our common bond was a similar desire to get married and have lots of children. I would daydream about being the first one married. When my dream became reality, you can be sure I gloated as I walked down the aisle at the age of twenty-two, while she still had no prospective husband in sight. Without even being fully aware of it, I have inwardly gloated over my successful, decade-long marriage, while she has had one failed relationship after another.
Through the years, I secretly rejoiced at her hurts and delighted in her downfalls. It is as if my happy ending is sweeter somehow because of her lack of one.
In true “mean girl” fashion, under the guise of friendly conversation, I will rub in her face that my life has become what she has always wanted. Insecurity has convinced me that I must never miss an opportunity to share with her that I am better, lovelier, and more wanted than she will ever be. I’m beginning to realize that so many of my motivations in life stem from a desire to one-up this person.
When my dislike first arose, I should have taken the time to get to the root of my emotions so I could repent. Instead, like with the foul sheets, I pushed my disdain aside, refusing to deal with the yuck. I have made a daily choice for over a decade to lie on sheets stained with bitterness, insecurity, anger, and lack of love.
For years now, the Lord has been asking me to change the sheets of my heart. He wants me to work through my emotions, repent, and leave my life of sin. But my hostility has become so ingrained into who I am that the thought of changing seems painful. I don’t want to stop. I continue to ignore him while justifying my lack of forgiveness.
I have used the excuse that this relationship doesn’t affect my marriage. She has nothing to do with Jason or our life together, but believing that is as much a lie as convincing myself that the sheets I was sleeping on were clean. Any bitterness I possess, even if not directed at my husband, will corrode its way into my marriage. If I can feel this vehemently against a girl who wronged me years ago, imagine the extreme anger I am capable of harboring toward my husband. I bring bitterness and strife into our marriage by refusing to acknowledge the stains they are leaving on my heart.
It matters little that this sin is older than our marriage and has nothing to do with my husband. I have ignored the situation for far too long, and my negative emotions have increased rather than decreased.
The time has come for me to change the dirty sheets!
The acknowledgment of my hostility is merely the first step. Taking the smelly sheets off my bed didn’t fix the problem. I had to wash them in soapy, hot water and dry them for an hour before they were clean again. I’m thankful for Jesus’s promise to wash us white as snow, but it won’t be a quick or fun process. As the dirt in my life is exposed, God will require me to have hard conversations that will feel very much like I’m soaking in hot water. I will have to cycle through memories and emotions, allowing God’s cleaning light to scrub the darkest places. I will be continually spun and rinsed until clean. I covet your prayers as I walk this journey.
Do you have spoiled sheets that need changing?