Like all moms, I am on a quest for some mysterious, magical concoction that promises to instill in my children the desire to obey and be kind, loving souls. Wouldn't that be something?! I've read the books. I've listened to the podcasts. I watched the films. I've scoured the blogs. I've taken the courses. I've completed the studies. I've attended the conferences. I've questioned the seasoned moms. (Did I mention I'm "slightly" type-A?) On this journey to craft my dream child, I came to the realization that in my pursuit to instill kindness, we're all just a kind mess. Oh, the grace I need to accept from that knowledge!
My little revelation all started when one of my children's therapists suggested a visual point system that elicits a reward--that whole positive parenting thing. Each child has a jar that they strive to fill with colorful cotton balls, given out for acts of kindness. Once the jar is full, they get to choose from a list of rewards: stay up late, an extra book at bedtime, a trip to the toy store (A.K.A. Dollar Tree), a special date with mom or dad, etc.). Who knew that a ball of colored cotton could bring out such effort and intentionality in our three and five-year-old?! A reminder (or bribe) for a cotton ball goes a long way in our house.
A couple of weeks ago, our children filled their kindness jars and decided they'd cash in with a trip to the toy store. When we returned home, I sent my husband a text with pictures of what they'd chosen (see below), so on-point with their individual personalities. In the text, I meant to tell him that the kids filled up their kindness jars, but instead, a typo read "kindmess" jars. Immediately, I was struck by the validity of my typo. Yes! That perfectly describes my children--a kindMESS. And then the Holy Spirit whispered a correction in my emphasis. They're more like a KINDmess. And so are you.
Too often, I find myself focusing on what I need to train and harness in my children. That is part of my role as a Godly mother, but I focus on their areas of weakness a smiiiiiidge too much. I admit that I have a critical nature and I battle to control this part of my flesh. Doesn't that seem to be a woman-thing?! I recall several times that I've vented to my husband: "He's such a mess!" or "She's such a mess!" in regards to my kids. In those moments of not-so-constructive criticism, I yearn to instead see the KIND in their MESS. Yes, he torments his sister with glee, but the tenderness in his hugs repairs my soul instantly. Yes, she always has to have the last word, but have you heard her prayers for the orphans? Yes, he breaks something in our home every.single.day, but did you hear him suggest we invite that homeless man to come live with us? Yes, she often answers me with disrespect, but have you seen how she lovingly mothers her friends? Yes, he tests my patience in ways I never fathomed, but did you see him work diligently to comfort the crying baby? Yes, she forgot to follow my instructions for the third time, but have you heard her carefully crafted plan to bring gifts and meals to the fatherless?
I imagine God is saying the same thing about us mothers, His daughters. Yes, she yelled at her child in frustration, but I later saw her gently instruct and embrace him. Yes, she decided to clean the dishes instead of play on the floor, but I also watched as she played soccer with them in the backyard. Yes, she was too exhausted to cook an elegant meal, but I smiled as she taught them about Me around the table. Yes, she didn't have the energy to respond to her husband, but I heard her schedule a date night. Yes, she forgot to budget for that expense, but I watched her teach her children to give to the needy. Yes, she was anxious over her sick child, but I saw her praying on her knees outside his door.
We are all just a kind mess, working to make ourselves a lot more kind and a little less mess. We must give our children and ourselves grace in this season of life. Make a diligent effort to focus on the kind part of their mess, your mess. Oh, what good a tiny typo can do for the soul!