Grace upon grace
He left the dinner table quietly, no big to-do. Just abandoned his favorite piece of meat to sit there and get cold. When there are seven people at the table, too many of them talking at once, its easy for the easily overwhelmed to want some space. We keep trying to use the metaphor of a car and when too many cars go at once you have one giant wreck. Same sort of thing with dinner conversation – but its not sinking in too well. We’re a work in progress. I quickly cleaned my plate, not taking the time to be thankful for this beautiful roasted chicken that we raised ourselves or the crunchy cucumbers that grew just outside the back window despite my dismal lack of weeding and forgetting to water them half the time.
I run upstairs and peek inside his door. He’s laying on the floor with pillows. I ask him why he left and what’s wrong. Its been another bad day – he tells me. I fight the urge to list all the reasons why it was actually a great day…we painted the barn, we got a new goat, and so on. I listen. It’s just always another bad day. I ask what makes it not good instead of disagreeing with him. I lay down on the floor and wait. He thinks about it. Because I do what I don’t want to do and I get in trouble, again. And my heart hurts and I slowly explain that he’s not the only one. He may well be one of few boys his age who is so tremendously, keenly aware of this. I tell him that his mama laying on the carpet there struggles the very same way.
Why? He asks. He wants to know why its so hard to not get upset when things don’t go how he expects. Why its so hard to respond well. And before he gets one step further and thinks he’s the only one this is hard for, I lay it out real clear. I want to love you well, love you perfectly, never let you down, never get mad at the wrong moment in the wrong way, lead you in wisdom and lavish you with grace, I tell him. But I mess up all the time, I’m never going to get it just right and there are plenty of days where I feel exactly the same way…its another bad day and I can’t get anything right. He turns his head and looks at me and sizes me up like ten year olds sure can and he’s hearing every word. I hope beyond hope that he actually hears my heart oozing through my words and knows that I mean it.
The verse I read this week in John and got tripped up on and can’t seem to read past but can only read again, and again, is this:
For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. – John 1:16
Just a few words, but honestly I can’t get to chapter 2. If the way of Jesus is grace upon grace then my way at home with these half a dozen kids is meant to reflect that. And this year here has been tough and I’m bone tired from not one solid night of sleep in just about exactly a year and I wonder where the grace went some days and how I could love so insufficiently when the love God gives is so complete and perfect and enough. He loves me well. Every single day. His patience with my imperfection and inadequacy is chock full of grace while at the same time beckoning me forward with his truth.
We talk about grace on the floor of his room and we both cry as we realize the common ground of our faults and how much we want to grow. We pray. And he sits with his head on my shoulder for a long time. Hoping, even if tenuously so, that this year will be a more gracious one.