The other day I was having a truly awful day. This day could've made Alexander's "terrible horrible, no good, very bad day" look like a slice of heaven. It was your everyday run-of-the-mill bad day in the life of a frazzled stay-at-home mom...you know, one of those days where the kids wake up too early, bickering and just. stay. that. way. One of those days with seemingly endless sibling squabbles, a list full of too many to-dos and fantasies of a hot bubbling bath of Calgon coming to mind every few minutes.
Well, this particular terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day also happened to be a church day. And so, with frazzled mind and tired, sweaty cranky children, we piled into our van and shuttled off to Mass. I wish I could say that once we arrived at church things miraculously pulled a 180 and fell into place, but...alas, they didn't. The boys had ants in their pants , Megan fussed on my lap, Luke had to use the bathroom, Adam kept dropping things causing a loud reverberating thump and making my face grow redder and redder by the minute as my blood pressure shot through the roof.
At one point during the Mass I happened to glance behind me and caught the eye of an elderly woman. Her face was sternly set, and, I, in my frazzled state assumed she was gawking at our sad display of poorly behaved and out-of-control children. This only made me feel all the more stressed and I could not wait for evening of kids-in-bed peace.
We muddled through the rest of Mass and as we were about to leave, there was a tap on my shoulder. I turned to greet the face of the same elderly woman whose eye had caught mine earlier on. She greeted me with a warm gentle smile and said, "I just wanted to tell you what a lovely little family you have here. I see your family every week and I'm always struck by how nice and well behaved your children are. I know managing little ones isn't easy and you certainly have your hands full, but you are doing such a wonderful job here." I dang near burst into tears right there! I felt completely taken aback and immediately grateful for this sweet little old woman who took the time to tell me exactly what I needed to hear at the precise moment I needed to hear it. An earth angel with heaven-sent timing.
And immediately I realized in a classic lightbulb moment that I was (once again!) being way too hard on myself. I was making all of the wrong assumptions about my children's behavior. I was expecting the impossible from tired kids that were trying their best. But the truth is that God doesn't care how many times the hymnal is dropped or about the volume of toddler whimpers. He only cares that we show up, we try our best and we seek Him. Sometimes we Moms put a lot of pressure on ourselves, don't we? We expect the impossible from our children at times when they are just not able to be at their best. I'm often reminded that we, too, are like cranky toddlers in the eyes of God on the hard days, and it's at those times that He only asks that we turn to Him.
I'm so grateful for the lesson in grace, and for sweet little old ladies with kind assuring words.
"Come to me all who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you."