Have You Had a Heavenly Head Slap Lately?

Super Christian

My husband and I enjoy watching NCIS on Netflix. We find it especially amusing when Gibbs, the main character, gives one of his obstreperous underlings (usually Anthony DiNozzo) the occasional head slap as a wake up call to get back on task or cease childish behavior. The head slaps aren’t hard enough to hurt—and they’re always on the back of the head because a slap to the face would cause embarrassment.

This morning, I received a heavenly head slap whilst reading Matthew 5:14-16 in the Message. First of all, God got my attention with the first part of the passage:

“You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.”

I hate reading hard truths in the Bible—frankly, most days I don’t feel like a light on a hill that brings out the God-colors. I like living in my own cozy little corner doing my own comfy thing and avoiding too much interaction with other people.

It took me a long time to learn about healthy boundaries and quit trying to act like Super Mom (or Super Woman, for that matter). But like a pendulum, I may have swung too far in the opposite direction. Or maybe I have realized that my need to do everything simply covered up a deeper fear of letting anyone know the real me.

God doesn't call us to be Super Christians, He calls us to be Sharing Christians. Click To Tweet

The heavenly head slap came in the last part of the passage:

“Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”

I have no problems with home hospitality, but I realized that I struggle with life hospitality—being generous with my life by opening myself up to others so that my transparency would free others to experience my safe harbor—a gracious Father in heaven.

Let me explain. We pray a lot in my business (I teach at a Christian school), but I often find it hard to ask for prayer. When Pedro had cancer, I could easily ask for prayer because, well, cancer. Everyone gets that and understands the power of prayer.

But last year when our daughter struggled with depression, suicidal thoughts and crazy behavior, I never once asked for prayer at staff meeting. I had myriad reasons. Sarah volunteered on campus (although she didn’t attend staff meetings), so it seemed like an invasion of her privacy. I worried that I would burst into tears and be unable to return to class and teach. I worried that people would judge our parenting (even though Sarah was no longer a child—and based on her outbursts on social media we had obviously failed at the parenting game). I worried that people just wouldn’t understand (maybe because I had failed to extend grace and understanding to other parents throughout the years when I saw their children acting odd).

Sure, I shared some of our struggles with distant, discreet prayer warriors, but I kept my stoic mask on at all times in my immediate surroundings. This past October Sarah and I wrote about her experiences. The writing and consulting and comments from readers acted as a catharsis to help me process all that we had been through. It felt good to confess to the world that we had struggled. The private replies from people who had found themselves on the same road that we had traveled validated the baring of our souls.

But in my everyday-not-blog-life I continued to keep my feelings and struggles to myself—unwilling to share with those who see me every day. And so God slapped me gently on the back of the head.

That part about opening up with others so that others can open up with God? I suddenly see what Paul means. If we share our foibles and fears with those with whom we do life—whether it’s colleagues, family or friends—they will understand that God exudes grace because they see that our relationship with Him doesn’t diminish when we mess up.

When I sin and ask forgiveness and mercy from my God and confess to my fellow travelers—they understand that Christianity doesn’t require perfectionism, it requires relationship. When I share my burdens with fellow travelers and ask for prayer, they realize that only God can act as the Super Hero.

#Christianity doesn't require #perfectionism, it requires relationship. Click To Tweet

I see myself as more of an onion on a hilltop with a carved out core where a candle shines. Those heavenly head-slaps knock away the layers one at a time. One day, I will shine the way God intended. Until then, I thank Him for reminding me I have a purpose in life.

What about you?  Have you ever received a heavenly head slap?

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a 'recovering cancer caregiver' who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • Hi! I’m visiting from #CoffeeForYourHeart today! I love your vulnerability here. It’s so difficult to be open and honest when we just want to be OK. It’s hard not to worry about what other people will think when we share our struggles. This reminds me of the verse that says: “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Cor. 12:9 When we are honest about our weaknesses, the strength of Christ can shine through more brightly 🙂 Blessings!

    • Thank you for the verse, Jordan! I’m so glad His grace is sufficient–where would we be without it?

  • Life hospitality – what a good way to put it. My conflict is in a bit of a different area – understanding that I am an introvert, being ok with the way God made me, but using it as an excuse to close myself off from people rather than open myself up to them. A nurse was here from hospice for my m-i-l today, and she gets on my nerves a bit because, since she’s chatty, it takes her twice as long to do what she need to do than it does any other nurse we’ve had. But instead of recognizing that God brought her into my life and home for a reason, I chafed the whole time and wished she’d get DONE already and go. I still have so far to go in becoming Christlike. Thankfully He is patient and picks us up when we fall.

    Oh, and I love NCIs, too!
    Barbara H. recently posted…Bookish QuestionsMy Profile

    • I totally understand being frustrated with chatty people! Especially if I feel like they should do their job and I should be doing mine :/. I’m glad God works with us!
      Anita Ojeda recently posted…A Different Kind of QuietMy Profile

  • Tara

    My friend Kevin calls that “a holy 2 by 4” that knocks us upside the head. I’m a fan of NCIS too. I think we all need that reminder that we have all been given a purpose.

  • I thank you for sharing this, Anita. We don’t always realize the impact we have on others by just sharing some of our vulnerabilities and shortcomings. I love how you put it here “…they will understand that God exudes grace because they see that our relationship with Him doesn’t diminish when we mess up.” By sharing our stories it shows others that God does care and that life is messy, but He still loves us and wants our fellowship. No one has strayed so far that they are out of God’s reach. Blessings to you!
    Gayl Wright recently posted…The Many Faces of ChangeMy Profile

  • Brilliant post. It is so true that people need to see real life lived out with God and how He makes a difference even when we mess up and circumstances are bad. I love that term of heavenly head slap and have definitely experienced that at times. Well done for learning to be more open.

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  • Debbie Kitterman

    Anita – I love watching NCIS with my daughter and I totally understand the head slap… in fact I got one too by reading your post. This part of the Scripture – “Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. ” …. Loved the version you used by the way.. I think it’s so important to read in other translations it often gives me the ah-ha (head slap) moments.. He’s put us there, not us our job is to stand….my a-ha moment it also says that in Eph 6.. put on the amour and then stand.. He does the rest, He does the work, we stand, we shine and we are to be generous. Such a great post and I loved your tweets too. Thank you so much for joining me at #TuneInThursday this week as I launched my new linkup. I would be honored to have you join me each week. Looking forward to reading what you share next week. Blessings to you.

  • So good. Your posts do such a good job of tying a spiritual lesson with a concrete image!