Give Me No Bananas

Image by Juan Zelaya from Pixabay

Every day I will praise You. —Psalm 145:2 NIV

When I taught fulltime and wrote in the early morning or evening hours, I had little time and energy to do special things for my husband, such as slip a banana in his lunch box or wash the plastic container he used for cake. I was lucky to get supper on the table before 7 p.m. and the dishes stacked in the dishwasher before I went to bed or ran out of my second wind. Often he made supper and cleaned up afterward to give me time to write.

But one summer day, I decided to show my gratitude for all his hard work by slipping a banana into his lunch box. But did he appreciate my thoughtfulness? Oh, no. He complained the banana was too ripe.

“I like them almost green,” he said.

Couldn’t he have lied just a little bit? I wanted to hear “Boy, that banana hit the spot! Thanks!”

Biting back a sharp retort and stuffing the hurt, I pulled out the plastic cake container from his bucket and stacked it with the dirty dishes.

“You don’t have to wash that thing every day,” he said in a tone that made me feel like a reprimanded child. I knew he was trying to save me extra work, but I’d wanted to make him feel appreciated. Instead I got negative, negative, negative.

“Thanks for reminding me of why I stop doing little things to please you,” I muttered when he left the room.

The next day, after I’d filled my journal with two pages of anger, I opened my Bible to the day’s reading. 

“Every day I will bless thee,” I read, “and praise thy name” (Psalm 145:2). 

A heart full of anger has no room for praise.

God has a funny way of nudging me when my attitude isn’t what it should be.

I opened my journal to the entry I’d made just two days prior to my whining session when I’d filled four pages listing things I love—laundry blowing in the wind, white cotton ball clouds skimming across a summer blue sky, a soft breeze caressing my cheek, a quiet snowfall, a neon rainbow arched across a storm-studded sky, a misty morning, a blazing sunset, the blush of dawn, a field of pristine, unbroken snow….

The old hymn “Count Your Blessings” reverberated in my mind, and the anger dissipated from my heart. In light of all these priceless blessings right in front of my nose every day that don’t cost me a cent—gifts from God for me to enjoy—how trivial my reasons for being angry were!

A heart full of anger has no room for praise, but a heart full of praise has no room for anger.

With what, then, will you fill your heart? The choice is yours. Only one will bring the satisfaction and joy you crave.

When I think of all the wonders You created in the world around me and the awesome deeds You have wrought in my life, Lord God, I am humbled by Your greatness. Sometimes I forget who You are and act like a spoiled child. Forgive me. Amen.

Read and reflect on Psalm 145.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Pierogies and Peace

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. —Romans 12:18 NIV

A Florida woman found herself behind bars over the holidays when she went after her brother with a knife for eating a plateful of pierogies.

According to the newspaper article, the siblings were at their mother’s home when the two got into an argument about the brother scarfing down the whole plateful. At some point, the 36-year-old woman grabbed a knife and threatened to retrieve the eaten goodies.

The article didn’t say whether the pierogies were homemade or how big the plate was. A serving platter? A dinner plate? Nor did it say whether they were the last of the dish or whether there had been a history of bad blood between the two.

The confrontation ended when the woman plunged the dagger into the hood of her brother’s truck.

Just when you think you’ve heard everything (shaking my head).

Not that I always got along with my siblings. My sister once threatened to drown me in the soapy water when we were doing dishes. Another time my brother grabbed me by the front of my shirt in anger. Imagine his surprise when I, five years younger and much smaller, grabbed his shirt right back. We three kids would get into it so badly at times, our mother fled across the street to her mother’s, saying, “Go ahead. Kill each other.”

Of course she didn’t mean it. We were typical siblings—we had our share of arguments. But we had good times together, too. After all, we were kids, not middle-aged adults who should know better than to fight over a plate of pierogies.  

Sometimes it’s just a small thing that appears to incite the blowup.

But the eruption has been building over time, like volcanic gases building up far beneath the earth’s surface. We hold onto our hurts and slights and grievances and stew over them. We keep a record of wrongs, and when we’ve come to our breaking point, like a volcano that can’t contain the buildup of gases any longer, we explode.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is explosion-6239425_1920.jpg
Image by ParallelVision from Pixabay

A woman once justified her temper to me by likening it to a volcano. “Once I explode, that’s it,” she said.

“But look at the damage it does,” I replied.

How much better to avoid the eruption in the first place.

People are going to say and do things that irritate us. That hurt us deeply. Intentionally or unintentionally. I’ve known folks who are born faultfinders, folks who harbor a contentious spirit, folks who are just spoiling for a fight—with anyone. Perhaps they want revenge—to pay someone back for a hurt inflicted or a wrong suffered. The problem with revenge is where does it end?

It’s not our job to label folks, to judge them, or even to understand why they act the way they do. According to God’s Word, it is our job to get along with them and to love them.

Not easy, I know, but we can accomplish this by doing three things:

Focus on the good in that person. It is there. If you can’t see it, ask God to show you.

Forget the unkind word, the thoughtless or malicious deed, the harsh attitude, the contentious spirit. By forget, I mean don’t keep thinking about it. Ask God to help you truly not remember what that person said or did that hurt you. He’s done it for me.

And pray—for that person, for the situation, for your own actions and reactions, your heart attitude, and for peace to prevail.

How much, after all, is really worth fighting over?

Help me, Lord, to focus on the good, forget the bad, and forgive as You have forgiven me. Amen.

Read and reflect on Ephesians 4:20–32.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.