Thursday, 4 February 2010
Practices of Imperfection: Bending low, giving grace
The summer non-schedule already wearing on all of us, the older two arguing every 20 minutes, their definition of a “clean room” so, so different from mine, push-pull, push-pull, push-pull.
My default response is sternness, control, consequence. I’m already annoyed, I communicate disappointment, and I feel like I’m there all day long. When it’s dinnertime and Nathan has had a tough day, too, I find that grace isn’t on the menu tonight.
The effects of a day like that still linger into the morning. When I see my family, I first see the wall between us. My heart is still hard and I can’t receive them like I want, can’t reciprocate the morning’s mercies that they hand to me.
And I think that this must be perfection talking, doing what comes naturally to her and focusing on the wrong thing. Always.
She looks at behavior, when I’m called to look upon the heart.
Perfection sets herself up as ideal, certainly as right and even holy and godly. But shine truth on her and she shrinks back, full of holes, faulty reasoning and law-based love, which isn’t really love at all.
Discipline is important, but it’s not the only thing. And in parenting, I don’t believe it should be the main thing — especially when it focuses on behavior first.
Look on the heart. Look on the heart. Look on the heart.
Embracing imperfection means turning away from power, means doing love before doing discipline. Empathy before correction. Compassion before law.
Grace over and under everything.
So this morning, I will pull my children in linger there in a hug they are always happy to take as long as I give it. When it all falls apart an hour from now, I will breathe and stoop low. When I feel like administering the law, I will look on the heart and administer grace first. I will look at my heart, too, and gently acknowledge when I’m going down the wrong road, focusing on the wrong thing.
Even when it means inconsistency, even when I see I’m not following my own rules, even when I can’t measure it in rightness or checklists of consequences. First, I love. This is imperfection in its glory, this is how she saves us all.
When perfection says be right, imperfection says be loving.
When perfection says be consistent, imperfection says it’s more important to be forgiving.
When I just want a day that’s easy or smooth or full of right behavior, I’m reminded that in the messy we find grace, and in the imperfect we find life.
Here’s to a day filled with grace and life first.