This is some really rough writing. I've gotten out of the habit of writing deep thoughts here. Bear with me. ;)
Once when Mane was very small I was having a miserable day. I threw myself on my bed and wished as hard as I could for it to be bedtime...soon. Mane came in and patted my arm and said, "Mama, I'm giving you grace."
I know she really had no idea what grace meant, yet, somehow, she knew I needed something...and grace sounded like a good word. Or, perhaps, God whispered that word in her little ears, and she was the voice of Jesus to me that day.
On Wednesday at Bible study we were talking about the worries we have as mothers that we'll mess our children up somehow, that they'll grow up to tell people about all the ways we've screwed up. I'm not sure, but I think the answer to that fear is grace....for ourselves and for our children...so that when they grow up they have some grace for us.
I really think our children start out that way...gifting us with grace all the time. They forgive us easily and love us with a fierceness that defies our many shortcomings. But somewhere along the way they learn to be defensive, to be less accepting of their own faults...and, thereby, ours, too.
Vespera likes a particular saying that goes like this, "Everybody has their stuff." I don't know if you can hear it or not, but that simple statement is just crammed with grace. Mane was the first child of mine to offer me grace. Vespera's grace came later and was more unexpected. She has a talent for seeing what's inside people...my own anxiety and needs for control, for example...but seeing the imperfections doesn't result in criticism. Instead, you'll hear her simple refrain, "It's ok. Everybody has their stuff." It's an acceptance that none of us are perfect, that most of us are trying, that we can still be loved and appreciated for who we are. We have stuff. It's who we are. But it doesn't make us less, and it doesn't make us unloveable.
I find that if I take that approach in life, I get along with a lot more people. I love a lot more people. If I expect people to have "stuff" I don't get so offended/hurt/insulted/frustrated when I come face to face with it.
I want to give this gift back to my children. I want to gift them with grace. I want them to know that they are loved in the middle of all their stuff. It isn't that I want them stuck there. I just think it's really hard to learn and grown and get unstuck outside the gift of grace. You see, I can relax and be a different person when Vespera notices my needs for control getting out of control and says, "It's ok, everybody has their stuff." Suddenly, the acknowledgment that it's there, but it isn't all of me and I am loved anyway, allows me to breathe again and to be...well, less controlling.
If we practicing giving grace back and forth to each other like that, maybe we'll all grow up to be more whole and loving people, people who forgive instead of blaming, who go out and live and make mistakes, rather than hiding in fear and trying to be perfect.