Another day at the superstore. Screams. Running into traffic. Full body resistance to sitting in the shopping cart seat. So many things to complete in a day- errands, work, diapers, laundry, cleaning, dinner, dishes, and on, and on, and on it goes. And in the midst of these many tasks our children obediently, thoughtfully participate in the family life, by cleaning, caring, assisting, sharing, and generally being pleasant people.
Granted sometimes our little ones are angels. So easy to love. But then there’s the other times. A lot of the time, there’s the cold, hard, reality of tactless humanity in the mix. And not just their tactless humanity. Because God knows, I am rarely a little angel.
So here I find myself in the superstore parking lot, starting sentences with phrases like “oh come on” and “get your butt…” and “I’m so sick of…,” and it goes downhill from there.
What a prime example I am for my kids.
It was in the middle of one of those other times- the tactless humanity times. I finally loaded the car with superstore bags, because yes, I am one of those people who forgets all 50 of her save-the-planet-canvas bags at home. I completed my errand; success! Except one kid is now crying. One is sticking a tongue out. Another is bemoaning the existence of car seats. And I am angry. I am not exhibiting behavior worthy of replicating. Mom needs a timeout.
In the midst of all this there was grace. Unmerited favor. Grace washes over me, and I hear a still small voice. It whispers to my knotted up heart.
Seek peace and joy first.
I was not seeking peace, I was seeking my to do list. I was not seeking joy, I was seeking adherence. I was not seeking peace, I was seeking “QUIET!!!!” I was not seeking joy, I was seeking “get along, already!” and “stop it!” and “hurry up!”
I knew what it meant. It meant sacrificing perfection. It meant giving up on my agenda sometimes. It meant being content when things weren’t finished, to do lists went unchecked, and libraries get full funding for a new wing. It meant I would need to exhibit all the things I was expecting from my kids. Patience. Kindness. Self control. Love.
And what a trade off-- a clean house traded for a happy one; a vibrant tasty meal salted with tears traded for chicken nuggets with smiles; a carload of groceries and screams at 3pm for a carload of groceries and giggles at 4.
That’s the best deal on the planet. I’ll take that trade.