“Mom!…. un-intelligible  mumble mumble sniffle…sobs….Mom!” Screamed my youngest- through tears. 

I ran to the door expecting to find blood. I thought I’d find skinned knees or hurt feelings… (It’s THAT time of the summer, when kids have been playing together so much they are in a constant state of emotional flux..) I didn’t expect to find him standing next to my new car.

The new car we spent days looking for and test driving and struggling to pick just the right one.  Yeah, that one. The new car that I’ve always wanted. A (used- but new to me) convertible. Yup. My dream car. (It happens- some girls can have dream cars.) A silver 2008 Chrysler Sebring convertible.  My shiny, happy, sunshine conducive, non-moose-mobile new (ish) car. The car I’ve wanted for 20+ years- while I’ve been driving mini-vans and SUV’s. (Because I’m practical like that- aren’t all moms?)

Since my older two are in college, there really isn’t much need for me to drive a vehicle that seats 4 adults and a child. So it was deemed to finally be: convertible time. Standing in the driveway all I could think was:

Why is he crying by my car?”

Eventually I made out the words: “Bike, scratch (and)  I’m sorry”  Which is when I had an out of body experience.

From above the scene, I saw a “through all the coats of everything” scratch about 18 inches long on the rear quarter panel. I also saw my child, cowering as if he were facing the electric chair- or maybe the guillotine. The look on his face said: “I’m guilty and deserve to die. Forgive me, but do with me what you will.” 

Like all out of body experiences (I don’t know-I’m making this up, just go with me, ok?) time collapsed on itself like telescope, and then extended into an alternate reality…..) Or, it just slowed down around me while I moved ahead in my mind… which, kind of sounds like a psychotic break..but I’m back from, so don’t worry. Either way- in that moment I knew I had a choice: let out my disappointment and frustration with all the tidal force I felt it building up inside me with… and face smooshing my child like an emotional bug, or stop. Calm down, and get a grip.

I wanted to kill him. (Not really- but you know what I mean.) At minimum, I wanted to make sure he KNEW how upset I was.  I wanted to tell him to be more careful. I wanted to remind him to put his bike away and pay attention.

I knew that all of those things would have been the relational equivalent of napalm.  I’ve done it before and had to clean up the mess. (It’s bad.) I’ve also watched it happen hundreds of times:  a mom, in total frustration and desperation pours out  all of it on her child. The child crumbles. Everything he/she fears about itself- (I’m irresponsible, clumsy, stupid, selfish, lazy, inconsiderate, and should know better…) are confirmed by the one who knows them best: mom. and the weight of it crushes a tiny heart.

For once I choose to get a grip. (This could only have been an act of God on my child’s behalf. Trust me- the amount of calmness that overcame me was DIVINE and totally not: me.) I took a deep breath, silently repeated my mommy mantra: “People are more Precious than Products.”  Then: I said the only thing I could:

“I love you, more than any car.” 

Relief blew across his face, like the wind blows through a convertible.

Cars can be repainted. Things can be replaced or fixed or done without… but the heart of a child can’t.

Every mom faces moments like this- sometimes we choose to squash and others we choose to extend grace. I have to say- having done my share of squashing… the day after grace- feels MUCH better.

Today- or tomorrow- or sometime soon,you’ll probably have one of those out of body experiences… and I hope you choose grace, too!

People are more Precious than Products… Yup- even more precious than Silver convertibles you wait 20 years for….trust me on this- I know!

Dear Lord- thank you for that divine intervention. Thank you for extending grace to me- so I can extend it to others. God- I pray that you will protect my child’s heart from the times when I pour out my wrath instead. and I pray for each mom that reads, that she too will choose grace. Moms have  the power to squash like a bug- or build up like a tower..help us to build up our children- so they can withstand the wind of the world… In Jesus name- amen

 Proverbs 18: 20-21 

From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; 
   with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied.

 The tongue has the power of life and death, 
   and those who love it will eat its fruit. 

 

hmmm so- anyone know anyone who does nice (cheap) paint work locally?  #fixedwouldbegood

The red fruit made my mouth water.  I could hardly wait for it’s ripening. To help pass time, I planned recipes for each tangy morsel.  I planned: fresh tomato salsa, bruschetta, hand made pasta tossed with tomato, olive oil and garlic and topped with looping curls of Parmesan Reggiano… the list ran for pages.

I carefully tended the plant. I gave it the perfect amount of water. I fed the soil the recommended type and amount of fertilizer.  I made sure it received the right type and amount of sunlight.

This required copious amounts of research, as I am naturally a plant slayer- not a plant player.  Maybe my acrylic nails block the green-thumb gene.  Or maybe, that gene is recessive and totally skipped my generation. Either way- I am the Dr Kervorkian of the plant world, plants come to me for help with dying, not living.

Daily I checked the fruit. And daily, my heartbreak grew.  Instead of growing and plumping to perfection, each fruit slowly deteriorated.  First, they puckered and drooped, then flattened, moldered and finally: rotted.

I reviewed all my research materials.  I’d done everything by the book:

  • Water- check
  • Sunlight- check
  • Fertilizer- check
  • Temperature- check
  • Soil- Check

Well. Almost everything.

See- I wanted fresh tomatoes and when I went to the grocer they had beautiful, but not quite ripe, tomatoes. I brought them home, tied them onto a tiny christmas tree, and tended them to (what I thought was) perfection. I thought they’d finish growing and I’d soon have the plump red fruit I craved.

Not so much.

Ridiculous?  Maybe. Evidence of my plant induced-idiocy?  Probably.

I bet I’m not the only guilty party.

Oh please, don’t pretend you’ve never done it.

Maybe it wasn’t tomatoes..  If you’re like me- maybe it was another type of fruit.  The fruit of the spirit, that you tied on and hoped would grow.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22

For years I read this list as my personal “To Be” list. (A little like a “to do” list, but infinitely harder to complete.) I tore it apart and tied on tiny unripe tomatoes of the spirit…

I tried to be loving, I became: annoying.

I tried to be joyful: I walked around grinning. I looked psychotic.

I tried to be peaceful, my best effort was closer to denial.

My attempts at patience made me grind my teeth until a TMJ flare up drove me to the ER for Vicodin. (This made me kind of peaceful in a stoned, not so much a holy spirit- way.  Which is not the same thing.)

(more…)