I am exhausted. This morning, I slept in, which for me is 6:00am. I've been trying to pray and think and work this morning, but my brain is just not quite working.
Being in the ministry and working with people may not seem like it's that strenuous of a job from the outside. What is it after all? Conversations, phone calls, drinking coffee while someone talks about their life, and lots of emails. (...said tongue-in-cheek...) So, why am I so tired?
I read this verse (again) this morning:
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry... James 1:19 (NIV)
Over the last few days, I have been engaged in a spiritual battle. One of my friends has been going through something really challenging, and I've been trying to help. Along the way, there were misunderstandings, fear-based responses and lots of opportunities to act and speak out of frustration and anger. The powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms were working overtime to divide, to create doubt, to create enemies where there were none. Everyone involved kept coming back to the concept above - lots of listening, not a lot of talking, avoiding anger or frustration when possible. We spent several hours in a room full of men on their knees praying and interceding for each other. It was incredible.
It reminded me how difficult and tiring it can be to exert self-control. And, yet, how important. It is so much easier to be "right" and justify quick answers. Yet glorifying God means doing the hard work of listening and biting your tongue. Such a small verse. Just three things. Yet the concept in practical terms presents a lifetime challenge. Easy to preach. Hard to do.
As I think about many of my frustrations in relationships, personal or professional, it most often stems back to not feeling heard, not feeling truly listened to. I see it all the time in church politics, in marriages, in parent/teen relationships - one side assuming they know, but not really taking the time to really know. Why? Because it's hard, time consuming and exhausting to do it right. I don't even come close to having it down. I blow it all the time. But occasionally, I get a glimpse of the end result of being quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. And it is beautiful.
So, I guess I'm tired this morning because my self-control muscle got a work out. And it's a little sore...