When My Ugly Comes Out
By Lysa TerKeurst

I couldn’t even blame this one on hormones. It was just too much, happening too fast, in too condensed of a time period, with too many people determined to get on my last good nerve.
I’ll give it to you in two-word snippets. And while I’m running down my list, see if any empathy starts to find its way to your heart. I’m convinced if there is one way all us girls are alike, it is in the reality that life ain’t always so pretty.

Computer crash.
Birthday forgotten.
Starbucks closed.
Whiny child.
Stained pants.
Pounds gained.
Feelings hurt.
Tempers short.
Dog fleas.
Pantry ants.
Throbbing head.
Interrupted nap.
Sibling spat.
Time out.
Messy car.
Gas prices.
Urgent errands.
No time.
Doctor appointment.
Waiting room.
Waiting room.
Waiting room.
Misplaced belonging.
Futile search.
Hand wringing.
Messy kitchen.
Chores undone.
Laundry piles.
Paper piles.
Dinner flop.
Sheer exhaustion.

Can you relate to days like this? And yes, all that and more happened on my birthday. And all the girlfriends sighed a unified, “Have mercy.”

I really wish I could put a spin on how I reacted to all this, to make it seem more godly. I would love to share how I smiled and remained calm and didn’t yell at those I love and didn’t pout about the forgotten birthday. I would love to be able to say I took the high road and handled everything with grace as I shined my little halo.

But I’m afraid only one word describes my overall attitude: ugly.

Since days like that are a reality, what’s a girl to do? Especially a girl on a quest to live out the realities of Jesus in the midst of everyday life … everyday life that sometimes gets quite messy, inconvenient, ill-timed and ill-tempered, I might add.

She heads to the pantry to eat her weight in chocolate pretending she’s never heard the word “calorie” before. Simultaneously she also calls her girlfriend who she knows will understand her slurred words despite all the smacking in her ear. And she huffs and she puffs just wanting to blow her whole house down.

Oh I do know that of which I speak.

No, I was so spent after my little ugly meltdown I didn’t even want to head to the pantry. I didn’t want to forget the word “calorie.” I didn’t want to call my friend.

I wanted help. Real help. Jesus help. I picked up my Bible and got really honest with God. “Help me in this moment. Please Lord intervene in my natural flesh response right now. Block me from acting how I feel like acting and show me how to diffuse my frustration and anger.”

There were no lightning bolts. No booming voices. No phone calls telling me of instant fixes. And there certainly was no sudden loss of appetite where chocolate was concerned. So I waited.

From across the room, I heard my computer make a sound indicating an e-mail had come through. Since it was the first thing that happened after my prayer, I decided to investigate. I opened the e-mail and sat back stunned. It was an urgent prayer request for the family of a fellow author and blogger. She lost her battle with cancer.

As I clicked the link to her blog, it was shocking to see her name with two dates listed below it. One was the date of her birth. The other was a date I’d written on hundreds of forms and celebrated with many a cake; my birth date and her going-home date.

Because a blog is like an online journal, I was able to read much about her life. Things she thought and felt before she got sick, and after the diagnosis came. There were vibrant pictures of her doing life with her loved ones. There were hard photos of her in a hospital bed with loved ones singing hymns over her. All things that had occurred during that little dash between the two dates.

As I kept reading my friend’s blog, I stumbled across an entry written by her daughter. In the entry she told of a particularly hard day where she grabbed the Bible and cried out to God in much the same way I had just minutes before. Only the Bible she grabbed was on a shelf beside her dying mother’s bed. Her mother’s Bible flipped open to a page with a blue sticky note citing this passage:

“Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits - who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:1-5)

I felt as if I was suddenly drinking living water from a fire hose. So many life lessons coming at me so fast. The biggest of them all was how easy it would have been for me to miss the answer to my prayer. I prayed for God to help me and to intervene in my natural flesh response. How easy it would have been to miss connecting the dots between my prayer and this e-mail. I suddenly realized that God is always present, always aware, always available and always actively participating in our lives if only we’ll make the choice to see Him … really see Him.

While my circumstances can still be frustrating and beg my emotions to get a little ugly, I know God is only a prayer away. The reality is that He is with me. All I need to sense His presence is to acknowledge it, ask for His help, and make the choice to praise Him despite my feelings.

Lysa is a wife to Art and mom to five priority blessings. She’s the award-winning author of 12 books who speaks frequently at national conferences drawing each listener into a unique adventure with Jesus. You can find her at: www.LysaTerKeurst.com where she blogs daily.

This article is taken from Lysa’s latest book, Bible study, and DVD teaching series, “Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl” being released by Zondervan this month. If you are looking for a fall Bible study for personal use or to use with a group, please see the back page or center envelope for ordering information.

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