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Sand and Feathers

Do you ever feel like every good deed you’ve done, everything encouraging word you’ve spoken, every productive idea you’ve ever had amounts to nothing, as if the years you have spent striving, praying, trusting, yielding, and encouraging are no more than a pile of sand and feathers, easily blown away by a single mistake?

One impatient moment and you are suddenly the mother who doesn’t listen rather than the faithful sounding board you wanted to be and thought you had been for eighteen years.One weak moment and you are the teacher who raised her voice and made everyone feel uncomfortable minutes before the start of Christmas break rather than the one who allows her students to start each day with a clean slate without showing favoritism. One vulnerable confession and you are the one who is too sensitive rather than the one who has kept silent many times out of respect. One honest observation and you are the critical wife instead of the one who regularly prays for the Holy Spirit’s intervention by other means so that her words won’t be the ones to wound.

Obviously, I’ve been there (like in the last five minutes), and I’ve asked myself why I even bother countless times. Sometimes, I fantasize about picking my sister up and taking an open-ended vacation.Where we would go, I’m not sure. I do know that we would talk and eat and drive and not worry, for once, about anyone’s needs but our own, and that is where the daydream comes to an abrupt end. I know I’ll never pick up and go like that, no matter how tempting it might be at times.

The truth is that I consider it a privilege to be Todd’s wife, Hunter and Hope’s mom, Bob and Karen’s daughter, and a middle school English teacher to the specific students on my roster. I feel called to each of these roles and, for the most part, get a lot of pleasure out of fulfilling my responsibilities within them. I also believe, deep down in my heart, that my obedience counts for something, that it is significant. It doesn’t earn my salvation–God already took care of that–and it doesn’t earn me any kind of spiritual promotion in the Kingdom. It does, however, make me Jesus’ friend, according to Scripture, and He is the best kind of friend to have.

Patient and kind, God is way more forgiving of my mistakes than I am. In fact, along with all of the positive in my life, He weaves my mistakes into His master plan. How does that work? I’m not exactly sure. It’s one of the things I can’t wait to find out when I get to Heaven, but I have given it a lot of thought. This is what I’ve come up with so far.

If you are like me, then you tend to praise yourself when you do well and keep a mental tally of the selfless acts you’ve performed (see above if you don’t know what I mean) even if you hate the fact that you do it. Over the years, I know I’ve built some pretty impressive monuments to myself, complete with shiny, engraved base plates that read “Angela Sanders.” King Nebuchadnezzar has nothing on me!

Knowing that, I think maybe God allows and uses our mistakes to remind us that we are fragile and flawed and that His name, not ours, belongs on any sand and feathers that we manage to amass. When we write His name on the good in our lives, we are forced to look at what is left and see ourselves for what we are, imperfect people, capable of and predisposed to wounding others just as they have wounded us. It takes the wind out of our sails, freeing us to love and forgive as we should, for our good and His glory, an eternal glory that will not blow away.

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