I just want to share this. It seems important and maybe it isn't, but if it is, maybe it will help someone.
My baby girl, G, told me a little white lie this morning. She is becoming quite proficient at telling little white lies, and even putting a bow on them afterwards: "I prooooomise." I have now learned that "I promise" means that she is lying. And I send her to time out.
So, today again I put her in time out and went about cleaning the kitchen. When the stove timer sounded the end of four minutes, I said, as always, "Come talk to me." And here is how her time-out ended, how it always ends:
We sit in the kitchen floor and I ask, "Why did you have to sit in time out?" When she answers, "I lied," or owns up to whatever the offense may be that day, then we discuss why the deed was indeed an offense. I tell her how sad it makes me when she lies [or commits said offense] and ask what she should do, which always includes saying, "I'm sorry," and sometimes involves other means of making the wrong right again. For example, today, she had to tell me the true story instead of the lie that landed her in time out. After all of this, we cuddle-hug and I say, "I love you, no matter what." And then she runs off to play.
And it hit me today that perhaps God wants to have this same exchange with me...for me to own my mistake, to say I'm sorry, to sit at His feet long enough for Him to tell me what I can do to right the wrong, and to pause a little longer to let Him love on me and speak words of encouragement to me. In short, to be still.
Instead, here's the drill. I mess up every day. All day every day, actually. There are no time-outs, but there are certainly lots of conversations between God and me about what I did. Most of our conversations are one-sided and end up going like this:
I know. I messed up. Again. I'm sorry. I'm awful. I don't know why you put up with me. Ugh...
And off I go again.
And I think God is sitting there with His mouth open, waiting for me to be quiet long enough for Him to say something, but I prattle on about my wretchedness. I forget that God not only chastens but also lifts my head. After every single mistake, He offers a warm embrace and an "I love you, no matter what." But I only hang around long enough for the discipline and run off while He sits there with His arms open to embrace and mouth open to speak love.
I want my kids to have such an assurance of love, to know that my love isn't tied to their performance. I don't do a great job of this. I freak out when little things go wrong, probably making them feel like I am angry at them or displeased with them for things that may not even be within their control. My fear is that they will internalize this message: "You must be good and chaos is bad and if you are part of the chaos you are bad and I will not love you." That is probably one of my biggest parenting fears. Because I struggle to remember that I am loved, no matter what. Because, if I'm honest, I believe the chaos in my life makes God freak out. I struggle to believe that He loves me in the chaos, even when I create the chaos. Because He is always in control, right? I struggle to remember that my chaos is still within His control...that my chaos has zero impact on His love.
I really don't want my kids to have these doubts. I am desperate for my kids to know they are loved, no matter what. So, to combat whatever craziness I contribute to the chaos of our lives, I make sure to tell them I love them when they actually mess up. (And I'm working on my freak-out default.)
And, so, it occurred to me this morning that I have got to pause when I mess up. Perhaps I actually need to sit in the kitchen floor and imagine Him sitting crossed-legged right in front of me. I need to let Him remind me that He still loves me.
God is love. He doesn't love us if we're good. He just is love. It is His nature to love. He has no option but to love.
So, for anyone else out there who might need this today, allow me to pass on this message from our all-powerful always-in-control God, Who Is also our loving heavenly Father:
"I love you, no matter what."
And a dinner idea for you tonight....
I'm a big fan of any meal that only requires me to dirty ONE pot. Or ONE pan. Or ONE of anything. Last night I tried a new potato chowder recipe and it is a one-pot wonder! Awesomeness without all the dishes that awesomeness usually requires.
If you're interested: