After some contemplative time of prayer today I realized that I needed to make a few confessions. I was convicted (not condemned) about some behavior I exhibited a couple of days ago. I would like to apologize to most of the people in my neighboring small town. I decided to go to the grocery store late on Sunday morning - this was a big mistake.
There were very few parking spots, only four carts left, and massive pallets in almost every aisle for restocking. It was like Super Bowl Sunday or the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. A slight hormone imbalance made all of this overwhelming and downright infuriating to me. It was the perfect storm.
I have some specific confessions to make:
To the lady who waited patiently behind me while I agonized over which can of salty snacks to choose, I am sorry. You stood behind me so patiently and I turned and leered at you so you would go around me and get off my case! Oh my gosh, I'm sorry. It was hideous behavior. I know that because you swerved past me and sighed heavily. Truly, I don't know what overcame me, you did nothing to deserve that and maybe you had somewhere to be and my indecision about snackfoods was annoying. I'm also sorry for the names I called you in my head as you rushed by.
To the stock guys in frozen foods: I'm sorry for cussing you out in my head. You were just doing your job and wouldn't I have been upset if the ice cream sandwiches weren't replenished? You can't help that the trucks came and your manager was breathing down your neck to empty those pallets. Your manager knows good and well that angry, hormonal women are headed to that very aisle for a box of frozen antidepressants. Again, please forgive me.
To the lady who had to watch me cry near the cold cuts because the deli line was too long and my daughters are growing up too fast - I'm sorry for the emotional outburst. It wasn't you, it's me. I couldn't contain my frustration about finding foods for lunch that my kids would actually eat and not let rot in the fridge for umpteenth time. And I couldn't stop thinking that one day they'll be grown and gone and I'll have no one who needs the cold cuts.
Finally, I'd like to confess covetousness. A gal walked by and I wanted her long legs, tight bum, and cute little blazer. I wanted her freshly blown out hair instead of my air dried frizzy hair. I looked like I had just stumbled in from a frat party and I was feeling a little insecure that I was not in my Sunday best. I know that gal probably has kids at home who won't eat the cold cuts but for just a moment I was sure her kids ate everything before the expiration date, expressed huge amounts of gratitude for their mother's fine choices and also loaded the dishwasher without asking.
And that my friends is why Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount. Ok, I might be reaching here but stay with me. Up until this sermon, the people of the day were living by the Ten Commandments. Don't kill, Don't covet, Don't cheat, Don't lie to name a few...and most importantly worship one God, the God first and foremost. And really for the most part, they and we think everything's cool. I mean what percentage of us are really murderers? And last I checked most of us haven't sacrificed an animal to some statue in our backyards. But Jesus made this sermon to point out that just checking the boxes and covering the basics was not going to be enough to experience abundance and freedom.
Read Matthew 5-7 for the whole scoop. I'm just going to point out a few things. Firstly, grace-filled, loving Jesus starts off with the Beatitudes. You've heard them, "the blesseds". Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the hungry, blessed are peacemakers. I'm glad He started off with this, because he's basically saying that pretty much wherever you are in life, you're blessed. Blessed are you when others hate you. Whether you're impatient or being leered at by the nut job, you're blessed! I think Jesus also wanted to soften the blow because He was about to lower the boom.
After the "blesseds", Jesus informs everyone, they're just not good enough. Ouch, right? Matthew 5:20 says,
"For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." So basically, you have to be perfect to exxperience Heaven. Well that just stinks because I can't even get through the grocery store with a clean slate. The next section gets even more real when He informs the crowd (us) that anger and hatred in our hearts is just the same as murder. And looking on someone with lust who is not our spouse is just the same as adultery. Oh, the list goes on and on! I wonder if the people in the crowd felt cheated - where were the miraculous healings from the God man? Basically, Jesus says that our private thoughts and our intentions behind our actions matter. Even doing good just to be a do gooder is a sin.
See how messy we are? Jesus didn't preach this to condemn us. He never comes to condemn the world but to love and save the world. (John 3:17) Jesus was showing the crowd (us) that we can't possibly be perfect and clean enough to get along in this world or enter His father's house. And that's the very reason He came. Not to preach at us from a high hill, but to become like us and stand in the messy and then die for all of it so we can be clean and cured of the stink.
Thankfully a few chapters after all the hard to swallow truths, Jesus later offers some help. Some of my favorite verses are found at Matthew 11: 28-30
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
What happens in those mad grocery store moments or the road rage inducing traffic is that we forget to rest and rely on Jesus. I used to think "what the heck does that even look like?" You might ask that, too. Most of the time for me it's a deep breath and prayer asking for His grace. It allows me to smile and step aside, to admire and not want, persevere and provide without gritting my teeth. Clearly, I forgot this on Sunday. But when I think of what my Lord has given me, I can give of myself. Thankfully His mercies are new each morning and every grocery trip.