“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6 (NIV).
In our family, I make dinner and therefore, my children help out by being responsible to clean up afterwards. This usually allows me to finish up my work for the night as well as lay things out so our morning runs more smoothly.
About a month ago, one of my children was in a hurry and as a result, when putting away the leftovers in the downstairs refrigerator, failed to make sure the door closed all the way. Ten hours later, when my husband went downstairs to feed the dog, he found the door wide open. My first response was to be upset. I had overheard the conversation between our two oldest the night before and I knew care hadn’t been taken when putting the leftovers away. The job was done haphazardly, so I pointed out to the child responsible all actions have consequences. When you do a good job, you reap the positive consequences. When you do a halfhearted job, you reap those consequences too. I further explained sometimes the consequences that are received affect the entire family instead of just yourself. I didn’t stay upset, but I wanted to make sure my child understood that always doing our best is important.
Fast forward not even two hours and I received my third email that week from my boss informing me of yet another mistake I made. The first mistake I made was three days earlier and was a mistake that could have had serious implications had my boss not caught it for me. The second two were a series of misunderstandings and thankfully, very minor. However, the point was…my words to my child came back to haunt me. As much as my husband and I try to teach our children to become responsible, independent adults, they need to see mom and dad mess up too sometimes, despite good intentions.
As a result of the emails from my boss, I needed to step back and see what I could eliminate from my busy schedule. I was making careless errors because I was trying to wear too many hats at the same time when what I really needed was to slow down, step back, and take a breath. I’m much more alert and precise when I’m rested and when I give my full attention to whatever task I’m working on at that particular time. Most importantly, when I invite God into every aspect of my life, He’s quick to show me my mistakes and help me perform at a more optimal level.
I love when God works that way. He allows me to see that even when I’m teaching my children a lesson, He reminds me I need to continually work on the same principles as well. By realizing as a parent I’m here to guide my children and help them navigate their way into adulthood instead of standing over them with an iron fist and rigid rules, it opens up the door for better communication. It also gives me an opportunity to show them by my imperfections how to pick myself back up, brush myself off, and learn something from my mistakes instead of wallowing in self pity, and a “I’ll never get it” attitude.
I was left with this thought. Just as I didn’t set out to make careless mistakes my boss had to fix, more than likely my child didn’t deliberately set out to ruin the leftovers. My child was preoccupied and didn’t think about checking to make sure the refrigerator door was closed before coming back upstairs the same way I was preoccupied with too many other things to realize my work was suffering as a result.
Just as my Heavenly Father loves me enough to remind me during those times I mess up that I’m still valuable and wonderful and perfect in His eyes, I wanted my child to receive that same message from me. I decided since leftovers were out of the question (we had to throw them away), why not make something fun for dinner instead? While I was out, I bought each child their favorite candy bar as a special treat. Not as a reward for making a mistake, but as a tangible example I think they’re pretty special, even when they mess up.
Mistakes happen to us all. It’s my job as the mother, the heart of my home, to view them with a healthy perspective. And really, who wouldn’t rather have pizza than leftover soup? However, if my refrigerator door mysteriously starts staying open every time I make soup…there may be some ‘splainin’ that needs to be done.
Copyright: 2013 Cheri Swalwell