Thursday, November 18, 2010

In the Refiner's Fire - Holding Myself Accountable

I realized something a little better than a week ago.

I have a terribly hard time holding myself accountable.

So does John.

Boy are we a pair!
Where there's outside accountability we do great - at our jobs, school (with grades or other 'incentives'), outside commitments where other people are counting on us to get our jobs done!  At home and personally it's a completely different story.

We had a huge "discussion" last week and it came down to this: neither one of us holds ourselves or the other accountable for anything worthwhile (at least in our estimation).  John commented that he didn't know how to hold me accountable without being a drill Sargent.  I don't know how to hold him accountable without being a drill Sargent either.  Being a drill Sargent isn't good for either one of us. 

Yet, I grew up in a house where expectations were high, and people were held accountable without resorting to drill Sargent tactics.  You were expected to do certain things, so you did them.  That was it.  Beds were made, chores and homework completed, job obligations met, health taken care of, property maintained without so much as a blink.

I have really struggled with myself and in my marriage because John grew up in a family where having things done was a miracle.  Dinner on the table each night? Only super woman did that.  Carpet vacuumed?  It's too much work.  Spills wiped and items put away? Are you kidding me? If I ignore it, it will go away.  Work obligations were met because otherwise you didn't have a paycheck.  Doing more than necessary, never. 

I started to question everything that I was taught.  Am I being unreasonable?  It this really a realistic expectation?

Then as time went on, it became, "Am I crazy?", "Am I just stupid?", "Am I ridiculous?"  And then it became "I am crazy."  "I am stupid."  "I am ridiculous" for having these expectations of myself.

I felt worthless and I quit doing things that I *know* should be done and let myself get overwhelmed with all that I wasn't doing.  Why should I pick up the living room when the kids never have to pick up their toys and John never puts his things away?  Why should I take the time to set the table nice, when no one else would?  Why should I clean out the junk when no one else seems to even see it?

John and I had this discussion. He knows that all of this has been weighing on me for a very long time.  We started to pray for God to show us how to have the accountability and to guide us in this.

Tuesday night we got a shock.
A huge shock.

John had been asked to come and speak about his seminary experience at a small group community meeting that we are part of.  We were all there - me, the kids, John, our fruit salad that I brought as part of the pot luck meal before the 'main event.'  John did a great job and I snapped a couple of photos to keep as a remembrance and stick in a scrapbook. 

After John was done, he was presented with a card. 
A card containing a check for a semester's worth of tuition.
And seminary is expensive.

We were (and still are) shocked.  And amazed.  And speechless.  And, yes, I cried.

God has provided us with this priceless community that has carried us through so much. A community that brought food, gifts and did shopping when I was pregnant and after the kids were born.  A community that has let us know in so many ways that we are loved, cared for, prayed for daily and deeply loved.  A community that has expectations of us - our own expectation as well as God's and theirs. A way for indirect accountability.

Ultimately, though, it is not ourselves, or each other or even this wonderful community we are accountable towards.  We are to do what we can, our very best, no matter what.  Because no matter who else knows or cares or is paying attention, God knows.  And He cares.  He cares immensely.

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward." Colossians 3:23-4

God has cared for us so abundantly - beyond what we could ask, wish for or dream of - to the point of financial assistance that certainly wasn't asked for.  The only response we can have is to work for Him and not for any other reason under the sun.

Soli Deo Gloria.
Always.

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