My husband and I take turns waking up with the kids each morning, so at least one of us can sleep till a decent hour. All too common, the baby (Emery) woke up extra early on one of MY mornings. Thank you, love. I plan to remind you when you are a teenager.
After supplying Emery with a handful of Cheerios and a wooden “hammer the pegs” toy, I lay down on the playroom floor for 20 minutes. Just to close my gritty heavy eyelids, I covered my head with my arms, protecting my face from playful whacks from a mallet which, although a toy, felt professionally real. I finally forced myself vertical and staggered to kitchen to make coffee. It smelled SO good and I felt the meaning of life returning and was about to take a sip… but then my daughter Claire woke up so I went and got her. By the time she was dressed Emery loudly and clearly expressed his immediate and necessary desire for breakfast so I turned my focus to oatmeal.
As the oatmeal was cooling I stuck my coffee in the microwave and started on breakfast for my daughter. When both kids start eating I turn to get my coffee and Claire frantically has to pee.
I put down the coffee and help her to the bathroom.
Oatmeal is being flung gleefully on the wall and smushed solemly in hair when I return. Somehow, I laugh and sigh at the same time, and clean him up.
Breakfast is over, and I bring the kids to the playroom for playroom time. I reheat the coffee once again and bring it into the playroom, sitting down on a tiny red chair and lift the cup to my mouth when I notice Claire grabbing a toy from Emery and I slip my hand in front of his face just in time to stop her from hitting him with it.
Prepared and supremely wise mother that I am, I ask Claire this question-
“What is more important- the toy, or Emery?”
She hopefully responds…“The toy?”
“Sweetheart, your brother is more important.”
“Oh” she says, slightly disappointed, but still turns to
Crisis resolved, I turn to the coffee and hear the sounds of a large poop.
This time there is no laugh, only sigh. I really need my coffee.
I bring Emery to the changing table and change his diaper, wishing I was smelling coffee instead of this particular diaper.
Walking back into the playroom, my eyes lock with Claire’s.
She is holding the cup of coffee, arm out to the side.
Time slows down. I start to say “NOOOOOOO…”
S l o w l y she pours the coffee out on our new carpet.
I run at her and scream “WHY DID YOU DO THAT?!”
And as her face falls, my heart falls with it.
And as she wails, I hear a small voice ask me a question.
“Who is more important? Claire, or the carpet?”
(Thinking back to this moment, I am extremely thankful that God asked me about the carpet, not coffee! HAHA… “…the coffee?)
And, of course, Claire is the correct answer. I realize that my primary job is to love her like Jesus loves me, and I totally failed.
I run to her, scoop her up in my arms, and say “Baby I am SO sorry! I got impatient and angry and I shouldn’t have yelled at you. I was wrong, please forgive me!”
So quickly she looks up and says “I forgive you mama!” and gives me a squeeze and finds something to play with. I am surprised how much her quick forgiveness blesses me, and at some level I feel better.
I go get the stuff to clean the carpet and I begin to settle into accusing thoughts-
You just screamed at your sweet daughter.
You got flustered over something so trivial.
You care more about things than your daughter.
You are so impatient.
You are a mean mom.
You should try harder.
You aren’t enough.
“Mama- I think God says He forgives you too.”
Claire’s words shock me like coffee on carpet. My train of thoughts skids to a halt.
I realize my other primary job is to love myself like Jesus loves me.
I call Claire and Emery over, collect a few leftover Cheerios from the floor, and dip them in the dredges of coffee left in the mug. We take everyday communion, whatever bread and wine we have at hand, inviting Jesus into our mistakes, our real everyday lives, thankful for forgiveness and grace and hope.
The kiddos may think they are getting a weird snack, but this is my daily bread.
The good news.
The beautiful truth.
That it’s not about how perfect I can be, but about how I respond when I mess up.
If I listen to and take ownership of those accusing thoughts in response to a mistake, that doesn’t take me any closer to my goal of loving Claire like Jesus loves me. It definitely takes me farther away from loving myself.
Submission to the gospel means saying the forgiveness and redemption Jesus offers defines me rather than my strengths and weaknesses. It means letting go of self judgment and receiving grace with open arms.It means even though I feel impatient and mean and not enough, I don’t stay there but offer those ugly parts of myself in exchange for the beautiful freedom that Jesus offers for myself and others.
Where do you find yourself needing everyday communion? What areas of your life do you desire greater freedom to love yourself and others like Jesus loves us? What beautiful truth do you need to embrace?
I invite you to join me in everyday communion. Let’s do this together.
Lois McDonald says
When are you writing your book? Such feeling and eloquence Elizabeth in your writing. You could be another Karen Kingsbury and better..!!!