Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Gift of Grace

The dishes pile next to the sink, an unending chore. The panic rises within me. I can’t think with the mess engulfing me, paralyzing me from finishing. It’s daily, monotonous, yes, but you’d think by now I would have accepted it and plunged my hands in the sudsy water, washing my frustration away, down the drain. I want to be clean too.

I let the feelings come, anyway. Anger. Hurt from the lack of respect from my children. I take every cereal bowl left on the coffee table as a personal attack. They don’t know how each is like a slap in my face, but somehow I think they should.

So I let myself become like them and I lash out.

Husband dresses them and they flee, and I don’t even feel the remorse I should. I flee too. I flee the chore and immerse myself in a show, not willing to face my own childishness.

For a long time, I try to think of nothing.

He comes home with the children, finally, past bedtime. They come in quietly and I don’t make eye contact assuming they’re all still mad, and I want to hang on to my own frustration, too.

I close up shop in the kitchen, leaving the dishes I never finished, and head for bed. But the living room light is on and the door is closed. Curious, I open it and see all three kids lined up on the sofa already in pajamas, their faces full of cautious expectation. A gift bag sits on the coffee table where cereal bowls had previously taken up residence.

I can tell they’re up to something. The silly grins give it away. I feel the change in attitude, sit in a chair and the tears come, tears of my softening heart as all anger melts into remorse. Husband hands me the gift with a smile and gives me a kiss. “I chose grace,” he whispers.

As I take out each small item he explains softly.

“Next time you’re stressed, go take a bubble bath, or have some chocolate. Take a break.”

I smile weakly. His gift humbles me. It is coals on my head. Coals that burn away my chaff.

The kids gather around and I murmur repentance. They smile. While out, he had told them to watch and see what their plan would accomplish. Now, they see it played out, right in their own living room.

We all smile and embrace. Because, what could have been a damaging family conflict turned into a powerful lesson on the healing power of grace.

 

My gift, this morning, sharing the coffee table with a cereal bowl. I’ve got grace for that.

Lord, help me choose grace in each moment. For cereal bowls and crumbs and wet towels on the floor and endless dishes and disrespectful tones.  But, thank you, that even my failures give opportunity for teaching repentance. Thank you for redeeming and forgiving even my most childish moments. Thank you for your kindness toward me I don't deserve, for making me clean.