My response to my children is my thermometer. (As is my response to Nate.)
In any given moment, if I want to know how I really believe God perceives me — you know, in that place where it’s not just these words I recite to another about Him but the thoughts that stain how I live and think when no one is looking — I can simply take a look at how I’m perceiving them.
Am I the irritated instructor? Coach? Leader who just can’t get my people to follow, darn it?
Do I zero in on what they’re not?
Or am I soft towards their flaws? Tender-eyed. Gentle. Ready to cover over their faults …
Ironically, I wrote this post eight months ago but in the middle of a move-in process, I am living these words again now. I need the reminding …
Her shoulders slump and her eyes search the floor. She mumbles and turns her back towards me. This little sprite went from fire-in-her-eyes to a stone-cold-countenance in a matter of seconds, all because things didn’t work out as she’d planned.
I could write the script for this downward spiral. This mama is quite familiar with how her little girl handles disappointment. It adds up to hours, maybe days, now that we’ve talked — her in my lap — about how a heart is made to grow, not shrivel, when life gives us twists we don’t expect.
But hours in conversation and dozens of conversations over time don’t necessarily equate to change. We’ve seen itty-bitty baby steps with this one. An inch — a slight lean — in the right direction.
“We have to have the long view,” says Nate, calling me to perspective. “These baby steps are big and one day we’ll look back and see serious growth.”
I don’t know if I buy it, because I’m just like my little girl.
If you asked her about her weak spot, she’d recite the script to you. She doesn’t just know about her gaps, she has begun to study them. Isn’t that the way of human nature?
I see what she’s not and where she needs to grow and I zero in on these things. I pray towards her weakness, as if when she’s finally over that “issue” then she’ll really begin to live. I measure her, albeit subtly. And before I know it, my perspective is dimmed. I move from mother to coach — and when she most needs someone to hold her heart, I’m keeping her time on a stopwatch.
“I would rather boast in my weakness…“ says one who’s made it to the place where I can tell God is gently leading me, as my little girl wraps the fingers of her life around mine.
I want her life to tell the story of a God who reaches through earth to move both hearts and mountains to new places — but something in me resists what it will require for that story to be told. I expect perfection and glory to rise up in tandem, but His way is other.
I can’t seek both my own perfection — or hers – and His glory.
This rift in her heart — this gap — may be the valley in which her story in Him is built. But I want it patched. Filled. Over. All while He just might be saying: this lowland of hers is where I rise up.
If I can manage to not just grit my teeth and endure this while she wrestles, but hold her in her fight and whisper to her of a God whose crazy-beautiful power comes out of her ugly mess, we both might get changed by His holy, other, paradigm. There is something that gets unlocked on my insides when I realize that the thing I most despise about myself is really His greatest opportunity for glory in me.
These gaps of hers are for me, too.
atatAs I approach Thanksgiving with a mouth ready to give praise for new babes and new beginnings and a table spread with a feast, He shines a light in her valley and says “boast here, too.”
Real gratitude comes when we take our eyes off of what we’ve done and put them onto who He is in the midst of our failings.
This year, I am grateful for her lack.
Photos compliments of Mandie Joy.