Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Running Backwards

This is not Wonderland. The door frame didn't shrink suddenly once the white rabbit shut it in my face, nor did I grow too gargantuan heights after eating some confection labelled "Eat Me."

Silly me. Of course that's not what happened. Four hours of sleep only makes it seem like Lewis Carroll's words have turned real. And yet, with no changes in my house's layout or my physical size, I still started out the day by running smack into the door frame, the same one I've passed through daily without incident for over a year now. As I said--silly me, now black-and-blue me.

Grading student papers into the wee hours of this morning left me dozing much too late. My feet first touched the sheepskin rug beside the bed after many of you were on your third cup of coffee, hard at work in rectangular spaces. On any other day with three children still tired and recuperating from last week's illness, this tardiness wouldn't have been a bad thing.

But today was "get with the program" day when I would start actually rallying the troops and carting them to all destinations posted on the family calendar. No more marking CANCELLED atop each entry even though the "we're tired" excuse was more truth than fiction.

With the clock ticking, I began what I hate--rushing. It's always met with opposition. Had I told the children they were going to the zoo or the aquarium, all three would have been dressed, shod, full of milk and cheerios, and miraculously self-latched in car seats...all before I brushed my teeth.

Alas, I told them the truth--we were going to the nursing home where our church ministers once a month. While I and they both love visiting with many of the patients there, it's still not an event they consider worthy of rushing to see...even with mommy shouting to hurry because the music minister will start singing without her horrible-piano-playing accompaniment!

In the midst of dressing those who can truly dress themselves, pushing children shoeless out the door, and serving breakfast in the backseat of a van, I really had to wash my hair--it was pretty bad. Of course, only when my head was upside down, hand full of a healthy dollop of mousse ready to scrunch into damp curls, did the phone start ringing.

Head still upside down, fingers flying through hair to finish the job, I tried to run for it, through the door separating our bathroom and bedroom and downstairs to the kitchen where I knew I had left the phone.

Obviously, I didn't make it. Shoulder ricocheted, propelling me backwards, not forwards, and leaving an instant blue imprint of wooden board on my skin.

For the rest of today, each time something brushed up against that shoulder, I have felt foolish. Honestly. Who thinks she can run with her head facing the floor!?

I came up with a sobering answer.

Me. I do.

I try this running head-down bit all the time, refusing to lift my eyes to my Father and see His direction for my day, see the path He has laid out, the obstacles He can guide me around if I'll take His hand and look up, not down.

Especially when I'm in a rush, when I feel I don't have enough time to get done what I must, it's no wonder I keep running smack into the same ordinary problems and issues I have repeatedly asked the Lord to help me overcome.

This morning, we made it. We ministered to others, showing them Jesus' love. But I had failed to show that same love to my own children.

Thankfully, the Spirit spoke to me before we even arrived. At a red light, I turned and spoke to them. "Mommy's sorry for yelling this morning. I love you very much and shouldn't have yelled at you. Can you forgive me?"

From the backseat came three mumbled words of grace and a shy smile. "I forgive you."

This mother is far from perfect...and her children know it. But hopefully in the midst of my screw-ups, I'm teaching them the beauty of admitting when you're wrong, of speaking healing words of true repentance, and of both extending and receiving grace.


  1. Oh boy... I've been left spiritually black-and-blue a time or two. Yours is a painful reminder. OUCH! Hope you're feeling better, friend. xxoo

  2. Jennifer, I have to say...even your crazy days are a pleasure to read. I always look forward to visiting you. Your words have a way of pulling me right into your crazy busy household. Hope your black and blues fade quickly!

  3. Thanks Debbie. It's definitely crazy. You must be on hiatus from camping; I think of you every time I see a tent.

  4. What an amazing analogy!! You spoke right into my life, right into those black and blue places. I've run around with my head down more often than not. Thankful for the thud, the jolt of reality today.