It had only been a few minutes but a few minutes is all it takes for a little girl to turn a room upside down. What I wouldn’t give for a bit of Mary Poppins, spoon-full-of-sugar magic about now?
Alas, the only magic I’m equipped with these days is a dose of holy perspective and a spoonful of grace. The magic, it isn’t mine, it’s on loan from God, but just like Mary Poppins, it came to me in the nick of time.
Weary and worn, from dealing with my daughter’s fourishness, with her messes, her mistakes, her trying disobedience, I recently found myself in an ongoing rut of what I call, “bi-polar parenting.” A cycle of extremes where I’m loving and kind one minute, then railing and angry the next.
I know all mamas have days when this stuff happens, but for me, this was more than a bad day. This was a habit, a pattern of behavior I was falling into and my daughter was paying the price.
This realization, sent by God, came to me as I stood with hands on my hips, yelling at my daughter over the state of her overturned room.
“Why can’t you ever do what I ask you to do?”
“What’s wrong with you? Why would you do this?”
“What is it going to take for you to learn to listen and obey?”
The words flew from lips, hot and seething.
Perhaps it was the look on her face. Her sad eyes, her solemn frown. Perhaps it was her reaction to my anger. Her defeated silence, her gentle nod that triggered my epiphany.
In a sort of out-of-body experience I was able to detach myself from my anger and see what I was doing to my daughter. There I was, loading her with blame, with shame, with guilt. There I was, killing childhood, killing joy.
And it hit me, this question: If this is what I’m saddling her with now, the blame, the shame, the guilt, what’s going to happen when she grows, and tries, and fails, and makes real messes, real mistakes? What happens when she gets in over her head, and finds herself drowning in disobedience, in sin?
Because we all get in over our heads. We all make messes. We all make mistakes. It happens at four. It happens at 34. It happens at 104.
And when it happens to her I want her to be sure of my love, of God’s love, not wary of me, of him. I want to instill her and guide her with grace, with truth, with patience, with joy. Not guilt. Not shame. Not anger.
I want to love her as I have been loved and this is what she must know:
There is no mess, no mistake, no act of disobedience or sin that is too big for my love.
She’s four and I’m thirty-two and we’re learning it together. When the messes, the mistakes, the disobedience, pull at the trigger of my worn out mama’s heart, I’m learning to slow, and to smile, and to remember how I am loved.
And I whisper it soft in her little girl ear,
“It’s okay. It’s just a mess and there is no mess too big for my love.”
“It’s okay. It was just a mistake and there is no mistake too big for my love.”
“It’s okay. You disobeyed, but there is nothing you could ever do that would make me stop loving you.”
If a thousand times is what it takes for her to see and know that this is the truth and depth of my love, that this truth and depth of his love, then I will say it TEN thousand times.
Because this is what everyone of us must know:
Are never too big for God’s love.
No matter the mess…
No matter the mistake…
No matter the sin…
His love is bigger.
This magic, this holy perspective, this spoonful-of-grace, it may not clean a room, but it can make this mama’s heart soft, and patient, and willing to laugh.
This magic, it can heal at little girl’s heart, and right the wrongs of a mama who grows, and tries, and fails every day.
This magic it can make the medicine of a broken and messy life go down…
In the most delightful way.