“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” – Psalm 139:14 NIV
Oh how good it felt, to finally have a real deep belly laugh!!! We had finished mass and the celebration of St. Andrew Feast Day. Afterward, our church held a small pot luck dinner. All were invited to attend and yet not many stayed. Most who did stay, but not all, were individuals who hold a small part in the running or organizing of the masses. Why more people did not come, I am not sure. Perhaps they were like myself who had forgotten about the meal and therefore, did not have anything to contribute. Initially I was going to leave right away afterwards, but with a few minutes to spare, I changed my mind and sent my husband to the nearest grocery store to pick up a dessert. The food was great, but the highlight of the evening, was still to come.
Consider it a situation of not just being in the right place at the right time, but also being with the right person – wrong car; or should that be wrong person – right car??? Allow me to explain. My family and I, along with the other members, had filled our bellies with yummy lasagna, jambalaya, spring rolls, schwarmas, salad, cakes, cookies and juice. Conversation entertained the adults and games of tag and hide and seek were played by the younger ones.
With clean up completed, we began heading out to our cars. Running ahead was my daughter who was slightly on the impatient side. Rather than wait for us to reach the car with her, she jumped into it as soon as the lights had flashed and “beep, beep” signaled the doors had been unlocked. Buckling up, she sat for a moment in the backseat until she finally recognized, that the man in the front seat was neither her mother, nor her father, nor was he in the wrong car. Once it registered with her and she had seen that I had gone to the other side and stood next to an identical vehicle parked beside the very one she was sitting in, she quickly jumped out, ran around to our vehicle and promptly sat herself down beside me in the front seat. I got in and found myself unsure of whether I should laugh or cry for her. She does not take embarrassment well, and so I waited for her lead. She turned to me and with this funny look on her face that only she can give, said, “Well now … that was embarrassing!” and then the two of us laughed. Our laughter got even louder as her younger sister, following a short distance behind, and not seeing what her older sister had done, proceeded to do the same thing. The difference however, was that she looked at the driver before getting in.
How many times in life have we experienced a situation like that, where we run ahead of God, thinking that what we see in front of us is what belongs to us, and jump right in, only to find … it is not? Some of us get so wrapped up in these instances that we criticize the stupid mistake we made, wrongfully identifying them as who we are. I was very guilty of this type of thinking. I would berate myself for spilling milk or making a mess in the kitchen, as I frantically tried to get four children out the door to school, rarely on time. I held myself captive to this need to be perfect and gave myself no margin for error. Any mistake meant I was a failure, incompetent and incapable. I put such incredibly high expectations on myself and held unrealistic ideas of what it meant to be a successful, loving mother and wife. Forget the thought of ever being an employee, “No Thank-You!!!!” I was quite content screwing up in the privacy of my own hectic, crazy, disorganized home; where I could not get fired or be lectured about my poor performance or disappointing productivity level.
Years earlier, if I had been in my daughter’s shoes, I may very well have cried at the mistake and berated myself for being too impulsive and for making myself look so stupid. Do you know what the saddest thing is about all of this? It is this very daughter, who watched her mother while she was just a young little thing, and has now learned to identify her own mistakes just as her mother had. I was so thankful for this vehicle mix-up and the opportunity to use it for a life lesson, one which I hoped my daughter would accept and therefore save herself years of hurtful self-talk.
My relationship with Jesus only began about 7 years ago. As it has grown and I have learned, I no longer see myself as that mistake of a person, but one who is passionately loved and accepted by her heavenly Father. I have learned reasons for why situations occur and outcomes in my life seem to repeat themselves. I have learned how much the Lord loves me, and how special I am in his eyes. I have learned to accept that I am not perfect, and that is ok. I am now able to see my mistakes as opportunities to learn!!! There is no loser in me, there is no failure in me. There is however, a beautiful woman, who has spent years trapped in her own prison of expectations, that has finally been freed to live and learn and love, all that God has made her to be.
We were all really grateful that potluck supper night. Had we decided not to stay and go home, or to stay but only for a short bit, we would have missed out on one of the best laughs our family has had in a long time. The Lord gave me the words to share with my daughter after that vehicle mix-up, letting her know that by laughing we too, receive the joy of the Lord, even in our mistakes. She was loved no less and received no shame, but she did get the opportunity to participate in that deep belly laugh that had been missing for so long!
You bring out the best in me, teaching me to laugh at my mistakes and that humility is a very strong asset. You have shown me what it is to laugh with true compassion, and have gently called me back to you when I have strayed. You pursue me with an everlasting love, not because I loved you first, but because you first loved me, and for that, I am truly thankful. May this Tidbit of Treasure, knowing that we are your handiwork and deeply loved, be received by the one who needs to hear it today.
In Jesus Name,