You know when you’re walking through the mall and you pass your reflection, and, if you’re anything like me you’re like, “Seriously? Why didn’t anyone tell me my hair/shirt/rear looked like that??”
But, if you’re anything like me, you adjust what you can, quickly move on and get away from that crazy sight as fast as humanly possible because, maybe if you ignore it, it doesn’t actually exist.
Parenting is a lot like that. Your reflection sneaks up on you some days, and usually it’s when you’re at your worst. The exposure can be devastating. But thankfully, parenting lasts longer than a moment, so you can do something about it pretty quickly… except move on and ignore it (that usually doesn’t work out so well, just sayin’).
I’ve seen a lot of my bad habits thrown back at me via my kids and that’s no fun. But today I not only saw some of my bad attitude and utter humanness but I saw how I really react to bad things. What is it called, fatalistic? When you’re convinced your toddler will grow up to be a person who never eats a single vegetable or your kindergartener will be the only high schooler who can’t read or you will never ever connect with your teenager and she’ll move out and you’ll never speak again?
I get that way. A tough moment occurs and I go, “if I can’t handle age 6, if I react this way, I’ll never get through the teen years. My kid is going to hate me.”
And it finally became clear to me TODAY that this thinking is not just a huge load of stinking, smelly CRAP. It’s a bold, soul-crushing lie from the devil. And I finally saw it.
It was a moment of frustration for both of us. Me trying to explain, her trying to explain and we both blew up at the same moment. I was very harsh, I yelled, she was loud and insistent and sobbing. And I walked away.
And my pride was SO stubborn. And in the other room I whispered, “but I hate her attitude, and she won’t listen” and the Spirit whispered back “does your point matter so much you have to break her heart?” And I released my grip on my “rightness” and saw my harshness and my heart started to soften.
And I walked back in. And I met her eyes and held out my arms. And we hugged. And I apologized. And we talked about mommies making mistakes. And then I calmly, lovingly explained my point again. And she got it.
AND THEN DREW ME THIS.
We’re together. We’re smiling.
I get so convinced I’ll never do it right. That life will always be difficult. That I’ll always yell and always be harsh (I grew up in that nearly constant environment – but I did have a happy childhood too, don’t think it was full of horror. Conflict just wasn’t dealt with well).
And then I step back and realize I am not a yeller. I’m not mean. I’m not what I fear despite how naturally it used to seem because I have actually been changed. My prayers about motherhood from before I had a tiny new life inside of me 6 yrs ago have been answered. The Spirit did, and continues to do, His work in me. And I have my (many) crappy moments but that’s not who I AM. Restoration is real and achievable, but not because of what I did, but because He reached down and did it for me. And my harsh nature and my yelling tendencies have been restored to peace and love and my daughter accepts my apologies and she knows that’s not who I AM, by the oh so good grace of God.
Our whole lives are a work in progress, people. Our relationships, our skills, our dreams… God never finishes with us. He’s never done. He’s refining, perfecting, strengthening. Don’t let the lie convince you it’s over. Don’t let the lie rob you of redemption and hope. DON’T.