Last year for the first time I chose a word to focus on during the year. For 2009 it was patience. I shared some of my thoughts on patience in the middle of the year. I can’t say that I’ve conquered my impatient nature but I did find the exercise of choosing a discipline to focus on to be helpful. I do think I’m overall more patient than I was at the beginning of the year.
Still, it is something I struggle with so I considered choosing patience again. After all, what could be more patient than realizing it takes time to develop patience. Very meta. I thought about choosing “love” as the word because one of the things I realized about my impatient nature is that often I am impatient with people because I’m not being loving towards them. For similar reasons I considered “compassion” and “empathy”.
But what I finally decided encompassed all those things to me is Grace. So that’s my word of the year.
These past few days I’ve been working on potty-training David in a much more full-on way than we have up to now. When we’re in the house, he is in underwear. It’s been going ok. Today though he had three accidents. The third was a really messy yucky poop. And of course I found out right as we needed to be leaving the house.
So, I calmly changed his pants and underwear and lovingly reassured him that accidents happen.
Nope. That’s what I should have done. I broke the cardinal rule of potty-training: Do not yell when they mess up and make them feel bad because you will cause shame and harm that will be irreparable and they will end up in therapy because of you or at the very least they will not potty-train until they are 16.
I yelled. I knew even then that I shouldn’t be but that only made me madder and more frustrated.
So with a lot of sighing and banging things around I got him changed and everyone into the car and got us out the door. I dropped John off at his music class. David had fallen asleep in the car so he, Ruth and I all just ended up hanging out in the car taking a nap. But before I napped I had awhile to reflect on my behaviour and how very un-grace-full it was.
What I realized in the car is that David messed up on accident. Yet my attitude was one of “How many times do I have to clean up these messes?” I feel magnanimous if I handle it well one time but it only takes a few times for me to lose my cool. I on the other hand didn’t have an “accident” but acted out in anger, a sin ultimately against God. And it wasn’t the first, or third time. There have been countless other times where I screwed up. But God had already forgiven me, even as I sat there in that van and felt like a small little bug. I knew I was forgiven in His eyes. I realized that is grace.
PS- For those wondering, I did sit down with both boys and apologize to them. (John was around when I was angry and although I wasn’t yelling at him, I felt he deserved an apology also.) I asked for their forgiveness and they gave it. With big smiles and big hugs.
I think maybe they get “grace” even if I have a lot to learn.