The morning begins simply and purposefully. The boys and I eat breakfast, clean up dishes, make beds … all of it completed with, seemingly, contented airs. First one thing is finished, then the next, and the decided and determined course of slow and steady becomes a rhythm that breathes joy into the mundane.
I pause, midstream, and see this with eyes resolved to frame the plain, every day moments for what they actually are: glory come down.
I breathe deep, knowing that this must be my practice.
Over and over and over.
World without end.
As our routine and ritual plays out, we gather on the sofa to read aloud. As we are drawn deeper into the story and questions arise, we pause and discuss, compare and contrast. For one cannot traipse and footslog their way through the dominion of elves and dwarves. No, this territory must be revered and respected. Inevitably, however, when opinions are shared, a boy forgets to extend that same respect to his brother and words begin to fly like arrows. Voices rise. Emotions flare. And in a single moment, the morning that was wrapped in gold burns hot and I am left with hands dripping dross.
This is a practice.
I remind the boys of what it means to really listen and respond rather than to run roughshod over another person’s ideas. I talk about the power in our words and how we should only speak words that make souls stronger,and I am talking to myself as much as to anyone else. And even though spirits are still tender, the tension begins to melt and we continue reading until my voice gives out.
We move through math practice and readings in history until we can no longer ignore the rumblings of growing boys’ stomachs. We move to the kitchen for second breakfasts and the din of chattering grows louder and more incessant and my practiced patience wears thin. A boy speaks short and demands too much, all with a seeming flippant regard for my service to him, and in a blink, something breaks.
I know it the very moment the words leap from the pained place deep in me out through my open lips.
These words are not what are needed. These words are not helpful.
As time slows and I witness the vitriol and venom coursing everywhere it shouldn’t go, I want to yank it all back. I want to shove it back into the hellish hole from which it leapt.
But I can’t.
Words have been spilled and hearts are now leaking.
And no one in the room feels any stronger.
I seek shelter in the bathroom. To stand before these boys one second longer will be my undoing because I am just like Paul and do not do the good I want to do but the evil I do not want to do. I know that I say one thing yet do another and now my cheeks burn crimson and my heart has holes. The bathroom is used to my tears.
And the tiny room becomes my confessional and I weep hard and long. For how does one build up a home or hearts with love when the winds of mediocrity blow in through all the cracks? Although I can be stubborn, I am not stupid, and I know when I am fighting something bigger than myself.
But then there is a knock.
Small and quiet and steady. I look up towards the door, eyes brimming.
Then there is his voice: “May I come in?” he asks.
He is seeking me. He is asking me. And in an instant I understand why Jesus said children are at the very center of life in the kingdom.
The door is opened and as soon as our eyes meet, there is a melting. He runs into my arms and I cling to him fiercely, as if I were holding on for my very life.
Because, the truth is, I am.
And if I want love to win I have to accept that my brokenness will continually crash the party. My brokenness, my inability to be perfect, is not the problem.
Instead, it is the portal.
My brokenness reveals all the ways in which I come up short. It reveals the myriad ways in which I fail and disappoint others. It reveals the depth of my fear and anxiety.
But my brokenness is also the doorway to becoming the person that I want to be. Because the person that I want to be acknowledges the whole of me and that acceptance births a genuineness that makes me real.
On the other side of my brokenness, there can be forgiveness and healing and who doesn’t grow in the soil of grace?
So, as our arms wrap round and round and love is borne anew,
Over and over and over.
World without end.
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so won’t you join us, as we “walk each other home”? (ram dass)
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