Child #4 wakes with a fever for the third straight day.
Today is the Halloween dress-up parade and she will have to miss. If you’ve ever been the parent of a seven-year-old girl who sleeps in her fairy-princess costume the entire month of October, you will understand to what depths of woe we have already travelled before breakfast.
Spent, we stare glumly out the kitchen window and drink our tea. A flock of Orioles, the plumpest we’ve ever seen, hop in the frosty grass; their fat orange breasts reflect the rising sun.
Child #3 yells down the stairs that he cannot find his jacket. Or a sweatshirt. Or anything with sleeves. It was time to go ten minutes ago. He comes into the kitchen wearing only lacrosse shorts with bananas on them. I put down my tea roughly, and stomp upstairs to his room. I find all three items instantly.
“Mom, it’s kind of your fault for putting them where I couldn’t really see them.” He says from the safety of the landing.
If you’ve ever witnessed a wounded bull before a red flag? Snorting and pawing before the matador’s untimely demise? Then you will understand exactly the way that conversation went down.
I am still aggravated with Child #3 and can’t seem to let it go.
I pour all the grievances and hurts of the last week on his slumped ten-year-old shoulders during the car ride to school. I’m miserable delivering him over to the day in this bitter fashion – but I soldier on! Because this time I know my harsh-toned, critical, and accusing lecture will surely soften his heart and change his ways.
“I love you, mom” he says to the side of my face when we arrive. Gathering up his bag, he kisses my clenched jaw and closes the car door softly behind him. He’s gone. I won’t see him again until 3:15pm.
If your heart of stone has ever been pierced straight through by pure grace, then you can understand my quiet ride home.
Surely it is only kindness that leads anyone towards repentance.
Surely it is only goodness that can overcome us; move and change us; heal and shape us. It can only be goodness that pierces a heart of stone.
“…or do you think lightly of the riches of God’s kindness, and tolerance, and patience? Don’t you know that it is the kindness of God that leads you to repentance…? (Romans 2)
Why can’t I remember this for even one hour? One fall morning? One freaking day?
Father, forgive me.
I’ve taken your kindness lightly. I’ve been a demanding and intolerant bully. The harsh words I’ve spoken have caused my own son to flinch. My mind has been dark. My heart has been as unyielding as a stone.
But, you are light.
You are healing.
Your mercy never ends.
Your compassion never fails.
Your goodness and love endure forever.
Father, help me to see the incomparable riches of your kindness.
“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 11:19)
Peace to you – whatever the hour – as you remember the kindness of God to you and yours.