I dropped off the kids at swim practice and then ran to the grocery store while they lapped the pool. Whew. Another "car afternoon." The kind where my bottom conforms to the seat of my car and my hands to the steering wheel.
After their practice, Eva and Ethan came toward the car and plopped into their seats (without fighting over front and back!). We headed out onto the country road that took us home.
"How much homework do you?" My question was interrupted by a furry blur racing into the road.
I swerved. I braked. Clip. Clop. I hit the bunny.
Instantly tears came. "Oh, no! I hit the bunny!" I wailed over and over.
Bunnies, even little field rabbits that eat the hard-won lettuce of home gardeners, are furry creatures out of Bambi to me. I felt like I'd murdered Thumper.
I pulled the car to the side of the road where my tears continued. I couldn't seem to stop them. "I hit the bunny!"
Into my torment came the comfort of my children. From the back seat Ethan piped up, "You didn't mean to, Mom! It was just a bunny?no big deal!" Eva reached over and gathered me in her arms. "Mom. Mom. It's okay. You didn't see the bunny. It's okay, Mom."
In embarrassment I wiped my tears on my hands and tried to smile. I couldn't. The tears wouldn't stop. Maybe I was tired. It had been a loooonnngggg afternoon. I had to get myself together and get home. This was stupid. No it wasn't. I hit the bunny!
We sat on the side of that country road for ten minutes more while I cried and my children waited with me. They didn't whine. They touched my arm. They held me. They offered comforting words.
"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." These words from Galatians 6:2 flicked through my mind. I had recently read in my Bible's footnote for this verse that Paul had chosen the word "burden" because it referred to "weaknesses." Hmmm. Carry each other's weaknesses ?
A soft awe came over me. Where had these children learned such sweetness? From what storehouse had they retrieved their gifts of comfort for me? Surely I'd demonstrated error after error before their eyes, things much worse than hitting a bunny! Moments when I'd lost my temper, majored on the minors in their lives, ignored their needs because I was too tired.
Yet, as I drove the remaining miles home, other images came into focus, good ones. I saw myself reaching out to Eva in a wounded moment, holding her tight and reassuring her. I remembered sitting with Ethan after a major mistake and talking him through his remorse, underlining God's grace for him. I realized that God had reached through my weaknesses to touch my children with tender comfort; now they were giving it back.
I knew where my children had gleaned their comforting skills, and I smiled.
Yes, I hit a bunny. But God used that moment to reveal my children as precious burden-carriers who were equipped to handle the unexpected tragedies ahead on the road of life.
Elisa Morgan, M.Div., has authored more than 15 books on mothering, spiritual formation, and evangelism, including She Did What She Could: Five Words of Jesus That Will Change Your Life and the NIV Mom's Devotional Bible. Her latest release, in September 2013, is entitled The Beauty of Broken: My Story, and Likely Yours Too.
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