Needing and finding

Speaking of Chai (she's mentioned late in this post), here's a shot of her lounging on the only piece of furniture she's "supposed" to get on.

Speaking of Chai (she’s mentioned late in this post), here’s a shot of her lounging on the only piece of furniture she’s “supposed” to get on.

This morning* I crushed the spirit of one my children.

At least that’s what it felt like.

It was over an organizational issue we’ve been wrestling with ever since school started (well, actually, for years). It’s also an issue that this child refuses to really face as a problem. I hear “I’ve got this” and “No big deal” often enough that it makes me want to scream.

And this morning I did.

“When are you going to see this as a problem?”

“When are you going to admit you need help?”

“When are you going to stop telling me ‘I got this’ and start listening to what I and so many others are telling you?”

Oh, there was more—though God, in His grace, stopped me from saying at least some of the destructive things that were on the tip of my tongue.

But I went on and on. Not a dripping faucet, oh, no, a full-open tap.

And my child cried.

And I felt like, pardon my French, shit.

During it, following it, twinges of it even now.

After the tears, after my anger, I pulled my child aside in the kitchen, held this precious one close and said, “I can’t let you go to school without you understanding that my frustration doesn’t mean I don’t love you just the way you are.”

(And at the same time I said that, I thought, but that’s not what my earlier words and anger communicated!)

I affirmed this child’s wonderful qualities of kindness and generosity and oblivion to differences in other people and unawareness of standards that others set. This child is individual and easygoing and full of so much love.

“But you’re running into some things that are showing you that you have some areas of weakness, too—just like we all do—and until you admit them, you can’t grow in these areas. Do you understand that?” I asked.

My child nodded.

“I’m so sorry for the way I said it, though. There may have been things that needed to be said, but they shouldn’t have been said in anger, and I know I blew it and hurt you. I was wrong.”

My child nodded—but I knew that my apology, which also included “something to work on,“ was a lot for a kid to process.

We got lunches packed. We drove to school.

This child was the last to get out of the car “It’s really okay for you to be mad at me,” I said. “I did you wrong this morning.”

My child paused. Then said, “I love you, Mom.”

I was thankful there wasn’t an immediate statement of forgiveness. I was thankful this child was taking the time and the right to process.

But I barely made it down the carpool lane and around the corner before I began sobbing.

Oh, God, please heal the hurt I caused, I cried. Please come behind me with love and grace and mercy.

Heart churning, I tried to remember all I’d said, tried to sort out the good, the bad, the ugly. Some things felt as if they needed to be said—but in that way?

Then I simply quit, stopped my sorting and picking. “You’ll have to show me, Holy Spirit,” I whispered. “Reveal to me what You want me to see, help me to simply acknowledge my wrong, and then show me how to communicate that to my child. And, please, oh, please, draw this child close to Your heart.”

Home again, I cried more, on my knees, next to my bed.

It wasn’t completely about this morning any more. I’d just had a glimpse of how very fragile we all are, how easily relationships are damaged, how easily I could have said (and maybe did) something my child will carry through the rest of life.

And here's a much better pic of her, taken, of course, by my daughter Em

And here’s a much better pic of her, taken, of course, by my daughter Em

The dog heard me and came into my room. She pushed her way between me and the side of the bed and nuzzled my ear, and I was grateful for this warm-bodied creature sent by God Himself to comfort.

I found myself suddenly singing, the song itself a gift:

Lord, I come, I confess,

Bowing here, I find my rest

Without You, I fall apart

You’re the One that guides my heart.

Lord, I need you, oh, I need You,

Every hour I need you.

My one defense, my righteousness,

Oh God, how I need You.

What followed was a day of living into that song, cycling through needing and finding again and again.

Finding rest and rightness with God, and later, blessed reconciliation with my child.

And then, at the close of the day, another gift.

From the bathroom, where my child was getting ready for bed, I heard singing.

When the door opened, I heard it clear.

“Lord, I need You, oh, I need You/Every hour I need You.”

“Hon, why are you singing that song?” I asked.

A smile. A shrug. “Don’t know. Just came to mind.”

We have a Lord who guides—and heals—our hearts.

Oh God, how we need You.

*I wrote this yesterday–about yesterday.

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Mother’s Day–and the other 364 days

*Audio is at end of post.

On Mother’s Day, my motherhood is all clean and shiny; I get cards that tell me I’m very much appreciated for all the things I often feel go unnoticed, and my mom-failures don’t get mentioned.

But during the 364 other days in the year, I often feel like my motherhood needs some spit and elbow-grease polishing.

So, with the assumption that almost all other mothers feel the same, I’d like to share with you part of a message I listened to this past week. Dr. Crawford Loritts was speaking on Psalm 23, and his comments on one phrase in verse 6 spoke directly into my mothering.

“Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life”.

“Why ‘follow’?” Loritts asked. “Why not ‘go ahead of’?”

He then shared how he and his wife, Karen, love it when their seven grandkids visit, but with all of them aged 8 and under, it doesn’t take long before the house looks like a disaster zone. Each night, though, after the children have gone to bed, Karen gets out the vacuum and the Magic Eraser sponge. And she cleans up after the kids.

“God does the same for us, following us with His goodness and mercy,” Loritts suggested.

I know this applies to every area of/relationship in our lives, but my mind jumped immediately to relationship with my kids. So many times I’ve prayed, “God, I just blew it with them. Please undo my damage. Heal any wounds. Establish them in You. Restore our relationship.” In situations when I’m not even sure if I’m messing up or not, I pray, “God, I have no idea if how I’m handling this situation is good or bad, wise or foolish. Please work good out of it in their lives.”

Vacuum cleaner and Magic Eraser.

But WAY better.

Goodness and Mercy!

God’s goodness to flood over the wounds I have inflicted and will inflict. God’s goodness to fill in the gaps I’m missing, that I’m blind to.

And God’s mercy, defined as lovingkindness and compassion, as the character quality of God that urges Him to form and pursue and repair relationships with those who not only don’t deserve it but sometimes don’t even want it.

His goodness and mercy have come behind me again and again with my kids. I’ve witnessed it in their supernatural capacity to forgive me. I’ve experienced it when the aftermath of my wrong and subsequent confession is a deeper, truer relationship. I’ve benefitted when they are more willing to admit their faults to me because I have been vulnerable with them.

And it will come behind when I experience heartache with my kids beyond anything we’ve gone through yet.

That’s one to hold onto.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives…

Even when Mother’s Day seems very far away.