“Excuse me?” My eyebrows shot up. “Show you my what?”
My three-year-old dashed from the playroom to where I sat in a kitchen chair. “Your boobie! On your arm!”
“Ohhh—you mean my boo-boo. Ok, sure.” I pushed up my t-shirt sleeve, revealing a teddy bear band-aid from the doctor’s office, where an hour earlier the girls and I had gotten stuck with our annual flu shots.
“Yes, Mommy, I want to see your boo-boo. Look, you got a green band-aid just like me!”
“I sure did! We were brave!” And your mother is so relieved you were talking about her arm.
A natural mistake for a child, right? Boo-boo, boo-bee—easy to mix up a vowel sound here and there, no big deal.
But she got me thinking. Sometimes I pick the wrong words, too. Difference is—I know better.
Words like these.
I said put your FREAKING shoes on, now!
I am so tired of this CRAP!
DANGITALL, doesn’t anybody listen to me around here?! Aaaaaagh!!!
Oops. Occasionally I wrestle a bit with self-control. Do you? Frustration bubbles up and spills out my mouth, through grinding teeth and under fiery dragon breath. I don’t necessarily roar at full volume, I mean, I do have some godly discretion (see this halo on my head?). Often I’m just grumbling to myself.
But even if I only think the nasty words and never give them a voice, they’re still a symptom of some ailment brewing deeper than my throat. It’s my heart that needs the check-up.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it,” (Proverbs 4:23).
What does it mean to guard your heart? I used to believe this meant building walls of discipline around it, stacking prayers and memorized scripture like bricks, one on top of another until I’d constructed a pious barrier from which raw emotions could nev-ah escape, mwuahahaha.
But it turns out the wall wasn’t bulletproof. I’d get hit with a bad day or a surge of unruly hormones, and those bricks cracked and crumbled, leaving me exposed, cranky, and suddenly inflicted with a colorful vocabulary.
Slowly now, I’m discovering a more authentic definition. Perhaps, to “guard your heart” means to tend it, watch over it, nurture it. To let it thrive and not suffocate.
It means acknowledging the raw emotions as part of who and whose I am, even in my ugliest moments.
I am a child of God. My heart belongs to him.
So. This is usually the part of the story where I invite you to join me in cleaning up our act, taming our tongues, rising above the temptation of motherhood sin. True, the Bible is full of verses on why we shouldn’t shout “crap” in front of our kids, and I’m in total support of them.
But today, I want to remind you what else the Bible says.
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God,” (Ephesians 3:16–19, emphasis added).
We’re all going to mess up. We’re all going to have days when emotions scramble to the surface and spew out the wrong pipe. But don’t define yourself by them. Recognize that you are human, you are trying, and God loves you through it all.
Heaven knows I need to remember that. And I promise to remind you, too—week after week, devotion after devotion, imperfect mom to imperfect mom. Show me your boo-boos and I’ll show you mine.
We’re in this together. Amen?
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