When our daughter, Hannah turned five my husband Phil and I opted out of a party and instead took her to a Build-A-Bear store. We figured one morning and one stuffed friend would leave her feeling celebrated and me feeling relieved to not have to integrate dozens of semi-disposable plastic toys into her already plentiful collection. We began the outing with clear expectations. Hannah’s gift from us was a stuffed friend of her choice. Her garage sale funds from the previous week could be used to outfit the 18-inch friend in whatever manner suited her.
The trip went off without a hitch. She built a cat. We browsed all the accoutrements for nearly an hour. She carefully paired clothes and accessories that fit within her given budget. And we left the store with Rosey, an orange-striped tabby cat dressed as a newborn baby girl. My parental feathers puffed with pride as we left the mall with nothing but pleasantries having been exchanged between the two of us. My child was grateful. She was satiated with a single gift – one she actually helped pay for.
Did I mention we still had to drive home? Yes, approximately eight minutes into our half-hour trip north I was reminded once more of both of our carnal natures. At first it was subtle – Mommy, do you remember those roller skates in there? I recollected with her about how fun those eight-dollar see-through plastic skates seemed to be. Mommy, wouldn’t Rosey look so cute dressed as a big-girl? I agreed, that yes, Rosey would be a darling five year-old and that yes, in fact, those roller skates would be quite fitting had she selected them for her furry friend. My heart rate steadily inclined with each subtle step Hannah took toward buyer’s remorse – knowing that my just grateful daughter was being pulled out to sea in the riptide of materialism and all its discontents.
Okay, so maybe that’s slightly dramatic for the matter at hand. However, to continue on, before getting home tears were shed. Dreams of returning to Build-A-Bear were voiced and were coupled with the undying expressed hope that next year on her sixth birthday there would still be roller skates to be had. Oh boy. While I wish I could report that I was gracious and wise through the entire moment I confess that my own humanness got the best of me. I’m a mom who wants so much for my daughter to grow up to be a compassionate, generous and grateful soul. I loathe what the world shoves down young peoples’ throats these days and try very hard to combat it with acts of generosity, kindness and thoughtfulness within our home. Yet here we were chugging along in our minivan, having to recover and gain composure and later perspective on the elementary subject of gratefulness.
It wasn’t until later that night, long after Hannah and Rosey were tucked into bed that I gained some perspective of my own. There in that moment I was able to see the day’s situation through entirely new eyes – those of my gracious Father who receives
me in all of my humanness each and every day. What I realized in this space was two-fold.
First, what a blessing that I’m still privy to my child’s every thought! Hannah hasn’t yet acquired the self-editing that we adopt somewhere along the way. She tells me everything which inevitably means that some of what she shares falls short of the ideals I hope for her. This period of communication is a treasure and one that is fleeting, I know. How vital that I receive these candid reflections with grace and mercy rather than with frustration and judgment.
Second, lest I forget that I too am far from sinless. At times I wish for things well beyond my needs – like every time the Pottery Barn catalog shows up in my mailbox. If the truth be known, I’ve sometimes felt less than satisfied with gifts I’ve received, and thought long beyond the store about how that one more thing would have really finished off my desire nicely. Yes, I am responsible for leading my child in the way she should go. And yes, I too am sinful. It seems to me that bringing both of these realities to the table will result in the most authentic expression of what it is to follow Christ.
That night, I was drawn to a familiar passage, yet with an entirely new lens – that of a parent relating to her child. In Matthew 7: 3-5 it says,
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
Oh how I pray that every time I see Rosey lying around the house without roller skates, that I will again be reminded of the freedom to be found in this passage for every single one of us.
not currently in homegroups, in the ministry of childcare. Contact Deedee Underwood. *protected email*, if you are not currently in a homegroup so that you can be placed in the rotation to serve.