(...because this was what I was feeling after I wrote that 5 minutes for the Gypsy Mama).
When I was a little girl, my older sister and I used to go out with my dad for drives. He would stop at Glenwood Market and pick up a couple of six packs of beer and some lottery tickets while he allowed us to get a treat: I remember red pistachio nuts, and then my fingers would be red and salty all night.
When my father became a Christian, he was born again. This term is so badly twisted, mocked, maligned, misused these days, that I almost feel funny using it, but that is truly what happened, in a spiritual sense. He had become a new creature. But he struggled at first. He still drank some, and those lottery tickets were hard to let go of. But he did eventually. He had two sets of eyes watching him and questioning him wherever he went and whatever he did. He gave them up because they were part of his old life. They were no longer needed to give him whatever it was that they did.
He called himself Peter (in a comparison sort of way). When he talked to people about Bible characters, he always said that he was like Peter, a big mouth for Christ who soared one moment and then struggled the next. I wondered why he wasn't John, the beloved of Jesus, who quietly loved and lived for Him.
But I know now.
I am Peter too.
Can you imagine if God only put great people in the Bible, I mean the kind that always did everything right? He put real people in the Bible to teach us, but I think also to show us that there is forgiveness and hope no matter where we've been in life. He said Himself that it is the sick who need a doctor, not the healthy.
I know people who are like John the Beloved. They are the real sweet people who, although not perfect, have the most graceful, loving, wonderful spirit and personality about them, and I love them and can see why. I have some friends like this on facebook, and they have about 600 friends, while I stumble along at 200 or some and I most likely irritate half of those on my list every week or so. I've lost "friends" (okay, they were actually only acquaintances; that makes me feel better) who have deleted me without even telling me. But I'm like Peter; I shrug and say, "Oh, well," while inside, it hurts a little. I just have this incredible problem with my mouth: I say things when I can't not say them, and sometimes, my foot likes to go into my mouth. I can't ignore things if I feel something is blatantly wrong or misunderstood. I just can't. And it's not necessarily a pride issue; it's just an issue that I want them to see things right. (There must be a difference in there somewhere; isn't there?) My sisters and I are all like that. We're all super thick, expressive, opinionated, and as long as we're all on the same page, it's great; but those times we have varied, well, let's just say that the agreement to avoid those topics was certainly the wisest choice. None of us are great at making or keeping lots of friends, but the ones we do have that stick with us, well, let's just say that we truly treasure them and know they are willing to overlook our sometimes abrasive ways. They are, after all, true friends. I think we have all considered what a jaunt on the "it doesn't really matter" side would be like, but the thought is immediately followed by a heart-felt, "Nope, that's just not gonna happen."
Being a Peter has it's good sides. They are there, I'm sure. But the bad side is that we struggle. I struggle. I want so much to do what is right and be the perfect mom, wife, daughter, friend, sister, daughter-in-law, you get the picture; I even want me to like myself, but I mess up so much. I get mad at stupid stuff: "Where's my scissors. Who took them AGAIN?!!! I am going to crazy glue a chain to them and then attach them to the counter" (why hasn't anybody invented something like this yet?). "Why are there books and trash just lying on the floor? Does anybody else know how to bend over in this house or do you all think I need the exercise?" "Where is her pacifier? I am SOOOO SICK of looking for these things. Is anybody listening to me?" I feel like a pack of raw energy some days; I have expectations for things I want to do in life and sometimes they seem to disappear in the water that bubbles and then turns to steam in the cooking pasta; but when the kids go to bed and I sit down, I feel like a wretched mother for missing out on the moments with them because I let the pacifier get me angry, or the Farmer's picky comment, or the dog's stinky old smell that won't come off no matter how much he gets bathed. Sometimes, I know my ire and frustration is not because of the location of the pair of scissors, but is my anger at myself for my disorganization, or just my lack of being able to control the situation. I see Peter standing by the fire, his anger at the turn of events, the situation, the expectations dashed. I see confusion dancing in his eyes as he searches his heart for the truth that he thought was there. I can imagine the background noise of Jesus being questioned, His quiet or even silent answers. Peter wonders what happened to the man who wielded the whip in the temple, stood up to the Pharisees, conquered diseases. And then the whispering. "He was with Jesus." "Who was?" "That one over there." Peter dives into reality at the confrontation and denies it. The words tumble out with ease. Words that pierce his heart even as they fall on unsympathetic ears. And yet it happens again. Again he denies. And then a third time, this time even punctuated with a curse. And then he leaves and feels the weight of his words, as Jesus goes to His death without him.
God put Peter in the Bible because He had a reason for it. God forgives. He loves those of us who really need His love as well as the beloved ones who are more "deserving". Each morning, when the rooster crows, is a new day, and a new way for me to see that perfection won't come til heaven, I'm going to make mistakes and get people mad at me sometimes, but God won't give up on loving me, or guiding me.
As I sit here in the darkness of night and realize that this was about the time all those years ago that Peter was about to deny Jesus, I have hope for tomorrow. I know that when life's little frustrations mar my attitude, I have nobody to blame but myself.
Life is too short to let pacifiers and scissors and dirty floors make me miss the beautiful sacrifice of the Holy God. I plan to stand in awe and remember with reverence this year while my hands are clasped in the little hands of the 3 sets of eyes that are watching me.