Even now, as I am typing, my words and intentions are infected by a need to prove something to you, dear reader. The picture you see at the top? That is what I want you to think of our family. It's not how we behave, not always. But it is what I want you to believe about us.
Last week, I was all stressed out. Some friends and their children were coming for dinner. There was so much to do, but the boys simply would not take their afternoon nap. For four hours, four hours, they were crying and laughing and bouncing in their cribs. But not sleeping. They can be horrid and fussy without their naps. And certainly, we would not want the guests to think I am a horrid mother.
In naps I trust.
Even to my husband, who entrusted himself to me, I still manage to find something I need to prove. Hans took me aside and reminded me that everything need not be perfect. I know, said I, but I want everything to be perfect. And perfection meant that everything must follow my wishes. Doesn't he know that people's eternal happiness depended on this dinner?
I was delusional, of course. And I didn't really think these things were true, but I behaved as though they were.
At 4:30 p.m., a dear friend, appeared at my door, bearing words of comfort and a large bowl of dark chocolate mousse. She knew that the boys were sick and I had company that night, so she thought she would help by making dessert.
What grace! This friend grew up in Germany and lived in France for a time. And, let me tell you, she had a way with chocolate mousse. Not only did the words roll off her tongue in the most sublime way, spoonful after spoonful of Mousse au Chocolat sang, twirled, and exploded like fireworks in our mouths.
The family arrived around 5:30 p.m. As it turned out, what was most wonderful, most memorable, about that evening had little to do my day's labor. I was conversing mostly with the wife, and Hans with the husband. At one point of our conversation, I realized that God had been preparing me for this conversation with this friend not in one afternoon, but over the span of years.
The circumstances of our lives flickered before my mind's eyes. Details and hassles that I had accepted as the way things were. Their purpose suddenly became clear. My effort and preparation was nothing in comparison to the weight of God's hand, molding me and breaking me, in order that I may learn to understand this woman, my new friend. In order that I may learn to care for her in a deeper, more meaningful way.
I have nothing; thus, nothing to prove.
For sinners, Lord, Thou cam’st to bleed,
And I’m a sinner vile, indeed.
Lord, I believe Thy grace is free.
O magnify that grace in me.
Joseph Hart, ca. 1757-1759
(free mp3 here)
(free mp3 here)
The boys survived the night with no meltdown. They appeared to have enjoyed playing with the other children. Sick and napless, though they were. Lest their mother thinks she had anything to with their happiness.