The other day my husband welcomed me home from the grocery store with this somber greeting: "Go look at your son." A million possibilities whirling through my mind, I rushed in to find 9-year-old Chandler sprawled across an ottoman on his stomach, bare-bottomed and teary-eyed. There on his behind was a red, blistered burn as big as an apple.
"What in the world happened?" I queried. "I burned it on the fireplace," replied Chandler. Scanning my brain for potential explanations as to why Chandler would have been near the fireplace with no pants on, I proceeded to my next question, "Son, how exactly did you burn your bottom on the fireplace?"
Here I must digress for a moment to provide a bit of relevant background information. Chandler and his brother Chance, 11, find it quite amusing to stand with their bare bottoms against the French doors leading to our backyard. As the sun warms their little behinds, their buns temporarily turn red. Apparently there's great fun to be had in seeing who ends up with the rosier tush. No harm done (apart from bottom prints on the glass), so no big deal, right? Yeah, that's what I thought, too. Back to the story at hand.
Now I know my son well, and in order to spare Chandler the effort of retelling his humiliating tale (no pun intended), I ventured a guess. "Chandler, did you figure that if the sun through the French doors makes your bottom red, the front of the fireplace might make it even redder?" I'd hit the nail on the head. My husband and I shared a knowing glance that said, "That's our boy."
Poor Chandler. On top of excruciating physical pain, his heart was sick at the thought that he had done something terribly wrong. My husband and I explained to him that putting his bottom on the fireplace wasn't exactly a prudent thing to do, but we assured him that this was in the "kid thing" category, rather than the "sin" category. We tried to help him look at this as an opportunity to learn a lesson about thinking through choicesand to lounge bottomless around the house for two days (which for Chandler is always a plus). Pretty soon, we were all giggling at the silliness of the whole situation.
I get into lots of messes too, like ripping the door off the car because I forgot to close it before I pulled out of the garage, or locking myself and the kids out of the house (more than once, mind you), or inadvertently throwing away a $500 gift certificate for Toys "R" Us! I could go on and on, but you get the idea.
When those things happen, I immediately switch into self-flagellation mode, as if kicking myself all over the place will do a thing to remedy the situation. It's then that I need to remember my best reactions to my kids' messes. I'm able to muster up love and grace when they do dopey things because I know them. I know their hearts and their intentions. I know when they are trying to be trying, and when they have simply made an error in judgment. I can give them grace because it's been given to me.
My heavenly Father knows me. He's not surprised at my big-kid messes. He knows my heart and my intentions. He knows when I'm making a selfish decision and when I'm simply distracted or hurried or not thinking things through. He gives me grace upon grace.
When you find yourself being self-critical about your less-than-perfect mom moments, think of yourself as a child of God who is learning as she goes. Recognize what is sin and what is simply a "mom thing." Then listen carefully. You can almost hear a chuckle in God's voice as he shakes his head and says, "That's my girl."
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A note from Elisa:
Yes, we all make dumb mistakes at times. But before you start scolding yourself for being human, remember who created you. God knows and understands the intricate workings of our beings. Nothing surprises him and nothing is beyond his reach. Nothing. So take heart! Psalm 139:2-3 says, "You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways." Indeed, he knows us so intimately and loves us still.
Lisa Johnson is a writer, speaker, and recording artist from Southern California. Learn more about her at www.candykissesmuddyhugs.com. Elisa Morgan is president of MOPS International. Call (800) 929-1287 for information about a MOPS group in your area.