Monday, January 21, 2008

Some Holiday

Well, today was the official observation of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday. I have a friend - a real "Southern gentleman" type whom I love - who sends me an email every year discussing the impending celebration of Lee-Jackson-King Day. He's about my age, and I guess he remembers commemorating these three men together (talk about a strange juxtaposition!) for several years here in Virginia in the nineties. Here's the text he sends out:

Dear Friends and Family--
In Virginia, around the third weekend in January, we celebrate the Lee-Jackson-King Holiday--honoring three Americans, two of whom were Virginians.
A little bit about those Virginians-
Robert Edward Lee was born on January 19, 1807.
Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson was born on January 21, 1824.
These gentlemen were courageous, honorable, erudite and worthy of emulation.
"Human virtue should be equal to human calamity." -- Lee
"You may be whatever you resolve to be." - Jackson
A little bit of Virginian and Southern history... Have a great weekend!

It would seem, however, that he never got the memo that the "Lee-Jackson" part of the holiday has been virtually eliminated. (
See here.)

Either way, I've been pondering today the Jackson quote, "You may be whatever you resolve to be." Oh, how I wish it were that simple! If only I could do ANY one thing which I resolve to do with the resolve that I originally intended to bring to bear on the task... let alone being WHATEVER I resolve to be! I resolve to be kind. patient. longsuffering. gentle. not to speak harshly to anyone today. Yeah right.

I have four kids, plus a husband who sometimes drives me as crazy as I drive him. (He loves me as much as I love him, too, though, so all is well!) There are people in my life of whom I could genuinely ask, "With friends like this, who needs enemies?!" I'm in a church full of sinners (myself at the top of the list, of course) and an extended family full of crazies (ditto on the top of that list, too, for I'm sure they'd say the same about me). Living in the midst of all those other people I have to deal with (and - worse - living in my own skin - with myself - 24-7), I can't seem to do or be much of anything that I long to do or be! I long to be sweet and kind and forbearing and loving and patient and peaceful and radiantly joyful. I end up, more often than not, being grumpy and mean and short-tempered and anxious and frenzied and rather harried.

"15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Thanks be to God indeed. Thank you, Lord, for You. Thank You for Your unending, never-failing, ever-pursuing love. In spite of me. Because of me. No one else loves me like that. I am utterly undone.

Even when my MLK, Jr. Day began at 6 am with a near-crash on the computer... followed by six hours of tech-"support"-assisted trouble-shooting of our home computer network... (Sometimes I'd rather have the thick Indian accent of outsourcing than the techno-queen computerized vocal "person" I talked to today!)... Followed by several more hours of cleaning out the school-room closet (my 13-yr. old daughter has lost a very important school book) and the clothes closet in the girls' room (my younger daughters - 7 & 9 - live in a pig sty)... My husband helped with dinner when he got home, which I deeply appreciate, but I know that - just like when my children "help" in the kitchen - it means that the clean-up of the mountain of dishes waiting for me downstairs (he's taken my daughter to orchestra) will take me another hour or so. Especially since I had my son "help" with the clean up when we were done. (I'm hiding out up here and afraid to go down and look at what's awaiting me!)

Anyone who can "resolve" to be whatever good thing he wants to be in the midst of a day like today (or yesterday, or tomorrow, whether mine or yours) and actually achieve it... well, you go ahead and tell yourself you're pulling that off. And I'll tell you the same thing I said earlier: "Yeah, right." But if you're gimping along, clinging to Jesus and His perfection that covers all your muck, then I say we are kindred spirits...

Oops. Time to go meet my daughter and husband who are on their way in downstairs... give 'em a hug and thank them for loving me with so rare a love... So resolved.

And so failed. (Smile.) Instead, I snapped at my husband for his irritation over the state of the kitchen. "Freedom from myself will be the sweetest rest I've ever known..."

Thanks be to God! (Even on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day...)

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