Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Now that I actually have some time to write again the Blog's taking on a style rather like reading a book from the last page forward (or backward) as the case may be. But things are coming to my mind from the summer and now that time permits - they're spilling onto the screen.

A few months back the girls and I were on our way out for the morning. Off to LifeTime where I could get in a workout and a shower alone (listen for the hallelujah chorus). Emie had happily buckled herself into her seat and Ainsley was not so willing. She exclaimed that she wasn't going and she opted to put her whole body into the argument. I was frustrated, warm, and exhausted from what seemed like a fight at every turn to get the little love to do anything I had asked of her that day. The more she resisted, the more I dug in my heels until I used my arms as well to shove tuck the little lamb safely into her buckled perch. I pushed hard. She cried. I nearly did.

The conviction was immediate. I never want anything but love to come from my hands to my children. I understand that some people use their hands for discipline (which is also hopefully done in love) but this was not that. This was my frustration fanned out on her little torso and in an instant I knew I'd gone too far. I wanted to take it all back, to try again with more restraint and tenderness but there she sat, her face awash in tears. In her eyes was the look you don't ever want to see in your child: heartbreak. A surprise had come (and not the good kind) where she encountered the unexpected - an angry mother whose temper was lost. It was as if (all in an instant) she was piecing it all together for herself, puzzled to understand how a usually peaceful and loving person could lose it in an instant and disappear. In her trusted mother's place she found a forceful shove.

What she saw was me, a mere mortal, trying to gracefully clear the rising hurdles that the job of parenting the young places before you day after day. She saw me miss that hurdle and trip up a good bit. But what I want to make sure that she also saw (and continues to see) is the opportunity (the necessity) for God's unmatched grace. We need Him every hour. I want her to know that when I trip over my own feet, the laces, the stinkingly high hurdles, it's okay. It's okay because I know the One who can pick me up in one instant and set me back on my feet again. The One to re-tie my laces, tell me it's okay, and give me the chance to do better next time.

As we backed out of the driveway I told her I was sorry. That I shouldn't have pushed her into the seat and would asked that she please forgive me. She was quiet for a minute. I didn't even hear her sniffling anymore. I wondered how she was planning to respond. Was there room in her broken heart to forgive me or was she still mad that we had to get dressed in the first place and head somewhere she didn't want to go. I waited for her response and heard her say, "I don't know how to do that". Oh, the beauty of these moments. And if I used the word profundity I would use it here-this is the profound. How many people wandering around in grown-up land where forgiveness is concerned "Don't know how to do that" but would never admit to it. But for me to get to be the one to answer this question - to realize that this is my job - my privilege? Well, sign me up for another 50 years because I don't ever want out of this gig. Oh, the honor to parent well. Sheesh it's humbling to the core, but it is unbelievably amazing in moments like these.

I explained (in a manner I hoped a four year old would understand) that forgiveness is like giving someone a free pass. It's like telling them that you won't hold what they did against them. That you'll move on and let them move on. She was quiet again for a minute and then said, "I forgive you, mama."

Later that night (after what turned out to be a pretty long day) I was tucking the two lovies into bed. Ainsley lay her head full of curls back on her pillow and looked up at me with her eyes full of beauty. "Mama," she said, "Will you forgive me for not being a good listener earlier today?" I don't think I've ever said yes so quickly to anything she's asked of me. "Yes, a thousand times yes! I'll always forgive you no matter what." The smile that came across her soft cheeks was enough to take me home. To my real eternal home. This is the whole deal right here. The whole reason we do what we do. So that these little lambs can apply eternal truths to their lives as well. So that they can not only forgive others but receive it for themselves.

The love I have in my heart for these girls is titanic. It's almost too much sometimes like it might overtake me. And yet it's just exactly as it should be. I've been given something sacred here and it's unbelievable hard and equally amazing all at once. Well sometimes there's a good bit of time between the really hard and the really amazing. And sometimes in the really hard you are so unbearably exhausted by the sheer enormity of the task upon you that you're nearly overcome with madness in your own head. In the weariness when there's absolutely nothing left to pour out it's so good to remember that if you hang in there long enough, the really amazing parts come around. They're the reason I do all of the really hard parts. They're the inspiration to keep running and kicking up my legs to clear the hurdles best I can. And to remember that there's no chance in the free world I'll ever clear them all. And that shouldn't come as a surprise. It's part of the plan so that I (and they) can remember the need we all have for a savior. We cannot do this alone. But with our glorious and gracious Father - any and everything is possible.

More love to thee of Christ, more love to thee.

I end with this amazing passage from the unbelievably gifted writer Marissa de los Santos from her book, Falling Together. I love these words so much. It captures so much of what I am trying to get at here. That you can be wildly frustrated at having to lose sleep (again), explain why your child has to do what you've asked (again), break down why the answer is no (again) and then within minutes you are overcome with love without limits for this person who needs you. And yours is the charmed life filled with opportunities to meet those needs. Nothing else like it on the face of this green earth.

I love this picture taken on our trip to Minnesota. It truly is a snapshot into that season in which we were both teaching one another an awful lot about the grace of God.

In this passage, Pen is a mother to preschool-aged Augusta and shares a memory of one of many sleepless nights.

"Pen found herself thinking of Augusta. Augusta and her addled sleep habits, how on any one of thousands of nights her sobbing and shouts of "Mama!" would drag Pen out of sleep, two, three, even four times, how by the last wake-up, usually near dawn, Pen would be shaking with exhaustion and resentment so acute it was almost rage. Her head throbbing and full of static, she would throw off sheets and comforter and stomp down the hallway to Augusta's room, muttering expletives, even threats (threats that, no matter how empty, would make her reel with shame in the light of day), but within seconds of arriving at her child's bedside, as soon as she saw the pale wet face, the skinny shoulders, her anger would dissipate, lose itself in the warm, Augusta-scented air of the room. Her heart would melt. Pen would lie down next to Augusta and pull the small, baby animal bulk of the girl into the curve of her body, and give herself over to the business - her life's work - of loving this person who needed her."

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