The morning started out with a spell of pouting due to a requirement for her to sing, to perform with the rest of her classmates in a church service.
“I don’t want to sing,” she whined. “Why do I have to?”
I explained to her that she has a beautiful singing voice, that it’s her gift. And that the performance this morning was an excellent opportunity to praise God and bless others.
“Well, sometimes a gift gets ruined,” she responded, perhaps hoping that she would suddenly be struck with a severe case of strep throat so she wouldn’t have to fulfill her singing duties.
No matter the meaning behind her comment, she was right. Sometimes our gifts do get ruined. And more often than not, we are responsible for the damage.
There are numerous gifts we’ve been given in this life, but at that particular moment, I got to thinking about this gift of motherhood. This gift of raising children.
There is so much ruin in my own personal journey of motherhood and it comes mostly at the hands of, well, myself.
Sometimes I let fear, anger, and frustration rule my behavior. Sometimes it’s indifference, inattention, and laziness that take over. Sometimes it’s just plain selfishness. And sometimes my damaged goods seep right out of the box and bleed onto my children.
I wrap myself in fear that I’ll never get it right, so I stop trying.
I let my anger consume me and explode onto them, causing their smiles to fade.
I become frustrated and distance myself from them instead of leaning in.
I ignore when they are begging to be seen.
I become lazy when there doesn’t seem to be any progress.
I become indifferent, failing to guide my children on the straight and narrow path.
I become selfish when I am called to the duties that I don’t want to perform. So I don’t, simply because I don’t want to.
I watch their sparkle fade when I criticize.
I see their motivation disappear when I nag.
Their sense of belonging diminishes when I fail to accept them for who they are.
My harsh words scar their hearts.
And at times, my tone, demeanor, and expression lead them to believe that maybe they just aren’t good enough.
So often, I lay in bed at night and wonder if I’ve wrecked us all.
Motherhood is a gift, but sometimes I ruin it. My children are a gift, but sometimes I fail to give them what they need. And sometimes, their spirits are ruined by my own broken spirit.
There seems to be some level of ruin in each and every day. But the gifts that smolder in the ruins are never greater than the gift of radiant redemption.
My daughter may not have used her gift of voice with a grateful heart this morning, nor do I always embrace my gift of motherhood with overwhelming gratitude, or even with the right attitude. But she has been redeemed. And so have I.
Ruin and redemption are a packaged deal. And redemption is the gift that can never be ruined.