That statement, flung at me by one of my daughters, was first prefaced with the claim that she and I must speak different love languages and was in the context of an angry, grumpy, exhausted day where said daughter felt she was entitled to something (that was hers) the very moment she demanded it.
It reminded me of all that volcanic activity that we saw while we were out in Yellowstone last summer.
Her comment angered me and frankly, my first "reactive" thoughts ran along the lines of, "Fine then. Why don't I just give you a very tangible taste of what it would really 'feel' like if I didn't love you."
Which infuriated me. Not just my daughter's angry and hurtful words. My initial response, I mean.
I so totally despise that feeling of infuriating myself... It usually means that in my thought life (if not actually acted out in real time), I'm acting no differently or better than a child... my child.
The temptation is always there. I want to walk through life, assuming a landscape of entitlement, insisting that things go just the way I think they should with self at the center of all. That might be because I think I've worked hard enough and I deserve it... or because things have been so bad and hard lately I should get a break... or because I am important (for this or that reason) and people around me should recognize that and value me... or because my contribution is a little more vital and they'd really miss me if I stopped [contributing] so they'd better not tick me off... or because...
I could keep on going, couldn't I.
The problem with living that way is that I'm just like a volcanic landscape.
Sometimes those feelings bubble and boiling to the surface, little poofs of steam sometimes shoot up, all hinting and giving glimpses of the ugly underneath when too much life pressure builds up. That odor permeating the area? It's distinct - not overpowering but always noticeable. Kinda sulfery. Most would be hard-pressed to describe it sweet, mild, pleasant - or a place to hang out for a significant time.
Other times, there's not noticeable fuming or exploding. But clearly? Something unhealthy is going on underneath, for the visible landscape it missing something. I has a desolate air to it: things once growing and vibrant have died and signs of new life are nonexistent. People who tread that landscape always do so hesitantly, scared of what all that energy just below the obvious surface might do to them should it be unleashed. Who wants to stick it out long term when that sort of blackmail threat is always buried, just out of sight, but still palpable?
Then there are always those who begin to rumble and grumble and then just spew heat and hate and anger and entitlement... sometimes predictably, sometimes only every so often and clearly not when expected, sometimes large and wide, sometimes narrow and high with deadly force and precision.
I don't imagine many would say, "I want people to think of a geologic nightmare, intriguing and fascinating though it may be, like the landscape of Yellowstone... when they think of me." Personally, Yellowstone was the kind of place that was nice to visit. But it wasn't one of the places we saw on our travels where I said, "I could just plant myself here and never leave..." It was too volatile- it sometimes felt (and I don't know if this would make any sense to anyone else) voyeuristic, not to mention overstimulating and just plain exhausting.
As I've thought back many times at first, but just recently once again, to my daughter's furious fuming that began this whole mind-and-heart-meander, I had one final light bulb ping.
I make similar statements to God time and time again. Just like Job did. Until he realized.
What was Job's response?
"I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. 'Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?' Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me. I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes." (NASB, from Job 42)Or phrased another way...
“I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans. You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water, ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’ I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me, made small talk about wonders way over my head. You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking. Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’ I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears! I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise! I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.” (The Message, from Job 42)
Thanks to Anna for her photos of Old Faithful.