When my kids were young I came to realize that it was better to be wrong sometimes and just ask for forgiveness than to do it all perfectly. I am revisiting that revelation.
The other day, 4 out of the 5 of us came home from a weekend long trip. I was vending a street fair, selling my luxurious soaps and skin remedies, with the rest of the family, excepting Forest (the almost 17 year old) who had to stay home to take his ACT test.
We arrived home late Sunday night, exhausted and refreshed. It was my birthday. Forest followed us around the yard, relaying to us the weekends events, and I would love to pretend that I was a perfect saint and just savored in the presence of my firstborn son, who I hadn’t seen all weekend and who thankfully had managed to drive himself to and from town who-knows-how-many times, without driving infractions or accidents. But I didn’t.
We arrived at the chicken coop and I discovered one of my chickens laying out looking dehydrated and weak. There was no water in their can. We had left him with one single job… care for the animals. (Two jobs, if you include, don’t do anything you shouldn’t do.)
I went off on him. How could he be so irresponsible? How could he not do one simple thing… make sure the animals have food and water and are locked up at night? At some point, in my rant, I saw the irony and thanked him for not throwing a house-party, like I would have done at his age. This emitted a small chuckle from the lad.
Frustrated with my humanity, I marched half way down the driveway to cry out to God. How could I spend 2 days away from this boy-man that I dearly love and come home angry? I haven’t seen him for days and this is my welcome home… ON MY BIRTHDAY!?! Ugh!
That loving husband meets me. I confessed I am annoyed. Annoyed with Forest’s imperfections. With Eli’s. With my own. I walk back up the driveway, slightly humbled, to apologize and beg his forgiveness.
Why, I wonder, does this bother me so? I mean, obviously it bothers me because I failed in my mothering. I care a lot about being a good mother, and it seems like lately I’ve been a little more prone to getting angry over insignificant things, and not just with Forest, but with Simon and Eli, as well.
But I think it bothers me most because I don’t want to instill in my children what I believe it is instilling. You see, I want them to be gracious. I want them to be gracious to everyone they meet… including themselves! I want them to know that Jesus accepts us for who we are, just as we are, that He isn’t super preoccupied with our performance, and that maybe we shouldn’t be either. He just wants to love us right where we’re at, with all of our human frailties.
And I don’t want these boys to grow up to be perfectionists, who think that less-than-perfect just ain’t good-enough.
Once again, I remember the mantra that I recited to them countless times throughout their childhood, that “It’s better to be humble than perfect”, because today these boys get to learn it through the example of their mother, who once again gets to be gracious to herself and remember that He isn’t finished with me yet and until I reach those pearly gates, I’m still just a pile of dust with the breath of God in my lungs, and that He loves me just the same!