A barbie shoe.
It was a barbie shoe in the grass that prompted her to yell at me. I had been playing barbies with my friends outside on a blanket, but somehow, that shoe ended up in the grass.
My stomach tightened and my hands shook. I hated being yelled at. I hated the tension of how to act after the yelling. I hated feeling like I was always creeping over land-mines.
The shoe, that was just one time of many.
Today I gave that feeling to my daughter.
I screamed. And then I sat on my steps and cried. I held my hair in my hands and I shook. Have I become her?
She shook. With big eyes and her body half hidden behind the doorway, she nodded that she would clean. I yelled at her because she didn’t clean. “I’m sorry, I just wish you would do as your told.” My feet dragged my body up the steps and into my bedroom where my bed caught me and I cried. I could hear her crying downstairs. All for what?
My husband had had a bad day at work, and I had a bad day, and the badness of the day got flung onto my kids through the sharpest weapon I have: my tongue.
And in bed as I cried I remembered the tension and the shaking and how I hated being yelled at.
Back down the steps.
She was on the couch. We were two teary-eyed girls who needed each other. She nuzzled into my body and I rubbed her head and I said, “I hate being yelled at. I did to do you what I hate. I’m so sorry.” We held each other for a long while, and then we began again.
In those moments of cuddling, God’s grace broke through the guilt and regret by telling me that I wasn’t her. I never had anyone rub my head or cuddle me or tell me they shouldn’t yell at me. I never had the warmth of a nuzzle; I was left with only the tension.
But my girl, she has my skin close to hers, and my heart, and my love, and my warmth. She has my sorrow. I may have botched up in a moment of incredible weakness, but I am not my weakness.
God shows up in the cracks; His light comes through my dark, and we go on. We kick tension to the curb.
You can kick it, too.
We all botch up, every day, some days, but we don’t have to stay there, in the mess. Sure, we can, if we choose to stay hardened, to not apologize, to not accept His unwavering grace. But we also have the choice to lay ourselves low. We can feel sorrow and we can get up from the muck. We can enter into real love when we break before others and let Him bind us up; they see the mending and the scars, but they forgive us, as we forgive them. This is grace and freedom. And with grace and freedom there is no room for tension, the painful, ugly tension that strangles a soul.
You can choose to begin again.
His grace never retires.
He will never quit you and the work He is doing in you.
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