Ever since I became a mother, holidays make me nervous. Oh, the pressure of making it special. Of seeing my family smile. Of fulfilling an expectation that may (or may not) have been mentioned.
I have good reason to be anxious: there have been a few flops. When that happens, it really stinks. For the one who’s disappointed, and for me.
Of course, my kids are so resilient . . . . they bounce back in a matter of minutes.
Me? Not so much.
Each and every one of those little special-occasion-missteps reminds me of one of my favorite fears: it’s the “I’m-not-such-a-great-mom-and-my-kids-are-eventually-gonna-wish-they-were-born-to-someone-else” fear.
Maybe you don’t suffer from this particular phobia. But I’m inclined to feel its grip from time to time. And trust me: it ain’t pretty.
When I make mistakes on the job, my colleagues probably aren’t all that surprised. Neither are my friends, my family members, or my husband: they’re all pretty well-acquainted with my shortcomings. I’ve given them lots of opportunities.
When I goof up with grown-ups, I’m not happy about it, but it’s relatively easy to ask for—and accept—God’s forgiveness. Such mistakes aren’t desirable, but they seem more forgive-able, maybe because the playing field is a little more level.
But mistakes that hurt my children? Not okay. No Christian mother does that, right? At least not the good ones.
Because my children . . . they’re little people. Tender. Impressionable. And I’m the one nurturing their hearts, building up their souls. Maybe helping them develop their coping skills . . . but not by providing practice recovering from their mother's flub-ups.
Plus, I can’t even count how many books and sermons I’ve heard about how the parents have a hugely significant, gi-normous impact on a child’s view of God. I mean, if I don’t parent well, then my children are going to need a whole bunch of help: Bible Study, prayer, therapy, and Lord knows what else just to recover from my mess-ups.
The stakes are so very high. The pressure: almost unbearable.
I feel it each and every time I go to pick out the Easter bunnies. Seriously.
Which is why the knot in my stomach got a little looser this morning when my daughter loved the Paul Frank Easter monkey I chose instead of the standard rabbit.
And why I breathed a disproportionately long sigh of relief when my son wasn’t overly traumatized by my forgetting the Hersheys Chocolate Drops I’d planned to put in his basket.
I somehow managed to make it through another Easter morning without making some kind of irreversible mistake that will wound my children irreparably.
Okay, I’m joking.
Fast forward only a few hours to my church’s Easter service: I am reminded that, because of Christ’s death and resurrection (hallelujah!) I have an inheritance that is being kept in heaven for me. These are blessings that are impossible to destroy, to spoil, or to lose their beauty.
Yet every time I make a mothering mis-step—whether it’s being a little off-target on a birthday gift, or a lot un-grace-full with my words—I start wondering where my resurrection power went. I start acting like He never died. I stop allowing myself to live with great expectation, and start worrying about how to make up for what a mess I am.
Instead, I start believing that the blessing (yes, the one that’s beyond the reach of change or decay) just disintegrated, vanished into thin air . . . . gone forever.
Instead, I’m Peter after the crucifixion: wondering (for good reason!) whether Jesus is gonna have anything to do with me anymore.
I won't let myself expect the best. I won't read on, to the part where Christ comes to Peter . . . . invites him to say again that he loves Him . . . . entrusts his not-always-consistent-follower—to be the caretaker for His lambs.
Today, I'm reminded, and unspeakably grateful, that through Christ’s resurrection from the dead, I've been given an inheritance that will never perish, never spoil, never fade. So have my kids.
And together, we have a new birth into a living HOPE (there’s that word again).
No one can destroy it.
Not even me on a bad day.
He Is Risen! He Is Risen Indeed!