It happened again.
That moment when you realize that you've let something emerge from the fetid swamp of your heart and the creature has wrapped its claws around one of your children before you could stop it.
He just wanted to please me. To surprise me. To make me happy. He just wanted a hug. A smile.
But I made him cry. It wasn't intentional. But it didn't matter.
Sometimes the absence of intentionality is the worst of all.
He spoke to her harshly. The sweet little sister whose heart is almost unnaturally pure and kind. She was just looking for her shoes. I had asked her to find them as we rushed rushed rushed out of the house to get someplace. Someplace insignificant enough that I can't even recall where it was, but in that distracted and impatient moment it apparently seemed important to enough to break his spirit over arriving there on time. I snarled at him. I'm sure if I'd had a mirror, even I would have been wounded by the darts of disapproval shooting from my eyes.
"YOU WILL SPEAK WITH LOVE AND KINDNESS!", I growled. The tone of my statement seeped with irony and contradiction.
"Stop! It is not your job to tell her what to do!"
His little chin trembled.
"No! Don't talk back to me." my irritation was taking on red hot life of its own. Doesn't this child know who I am? Doesn't he realize I'm in charge? And in a hurry?!?
A tear spilled down his freckled pink cheek.
"Mama....you don't undersatnd...i just...." his words came slow and choppy, interrupted by jagged breaths. "Mama....I didn't want her to get the bags out of the closet to get her shoes because I put them in there so you wouldn't see..."
"Why in the world would you put bags full of shoes and toys and junk in the closet?" I'm sure I narrowed my eyes at him.
"....because I didn't have time to put everything away.....I cleaned the van out....for you. I wanted to..... surprise you. I threw all the trash away..... and since we were in a hurry..... I put the other bags of stuff in the closet. I just wanted you to be happy..... when you got in the van."
My heart crumbled into a thousand bitter pieces of shame and regret.
But I couldn't take it back.
Isn't that the hard, convicting truth about words and unintentional moments? You can never take them back.
Once, when I was small, I was wounded by my own impulsive carelessness. I was doing my homework at the kitchen table, doodling in the margins of my math paper, wishing for a distraction. Suddenly my Granni's voice broke the monotony, like a life preserver to a kid drowning in numbers and equations. She had stopped by for an unexpected visit and I couldn't have been more excited to see her! I leapt from my seat and, in my hurry, the freshly sharpened pencil I was holding gouged forcefully into my thigh. Reactively, I pulled my hand back, breaking the lead off under my skin. It hurt. A lot. But even more disturbing was the sight of the black lead now permanently embedded in my leg. Almost thirty years later, it's still there. A small, dark circle. Never taken back. A reminder of impulsiveness and lack of thought. It's permanence and tendency to wound.
The words I spat to my son that day....like lead. Sharp and black. Wounding. Permanent. Void of intention but full of ire.
It's easy to move through life as if little things don't matter. Letting our emotions and circumstances dictate our actions. Surrendering to what we feel at any given moment. Moments are like pieces of a puzzle. Each one small, but every piece fitting together to complete the picture. Every piece matters. And you can't just throw the pieces on the table and expect that they will create something beautiful on their own. You must think. You must take care. You must be intentional. Lack of intentionality just results in an unfinished mess of pieces.
In His great love for us, He mercifully breaks our hearts with our own ugliness.
Then gathers the broken pieces, carefully realigns them, smooths rough edges, and puts it all back together.
Sometimes He has to break us so He can build us.
Life is marked by moments. Intentional moments. Unintentional moments. And those moments leave marks. Marks that can never be taken back.
I pray that the moments that I bring life to my children's hearts will be fondly remembered. And, by His grace, the moments when I fail to do that will be gently redeemed.