A Saturday before Christmas

I woke up to the patter of feet, and our dog, Lucky, running into our bedroom in the early morning. Sitting up groggily, I glanced quickly up and went back to sleep.

Next thing I knew, I heard a shwee-ee-ee… and I jumped out of bed and ran over to where Lucky was. There he was, on the cushion, in the midst of his morning pee.

“Lucky!” I yelled, and clapped, and quickly ushered him downstairs and out the back door to finish his morning pee. I could feel the anger starting to surge. Why hadn’t my son let him out to the backyard when he let him out of the crate? I felt the urge to shout at my son but curbed it, and instead, explained to him, “When you let Lucky out of the crate in the morning, you need to let him go to the backyard to pee, first thing.”

I went outside to let our chickens out, and while I was momentarily cheered by their cluck-cluck greetings, my smile turned into a scowl as I heard a squish and looked under my slipper. Chicken poop. Ugh.

That was the beginning of a very frustrating Saturday. We rushed breakfast and ran to get ready for Aidan’s violin lesson, barely making it on time, as usual. Then we stopped by UPS to drop off some packages. As I came back and opened the door, a big bag of chips that my son had propped on the door fell to the ground, spilling most of the contents. This time, some of that anger did slip out. “Aidan, when you’re done with the chips, you should close it so it doesn’t get stale, and put it away. Help me clean up this mess,” I got out, with a tight-lipped smile and angry eyes.

We got home, and as I was explaining how we weren’t getting a Christmas tree this year, due to our schedule, but we’d still decorate, Aidan let out some choice words. This time I lost it. We’d parked in the garage, and I let it rip. “Aidan, I am done with you using those curse words! I’ve been patient time and time again, and I’ve had it. Up to here! No more game time for today—you are done.” I slammed the car door, garage door, and stormed into the house. Not my proudest moment.

Maybe you’ve been there. If you are a parent, you’ve probably been there one too many times. At a time of Christmas cheer, and presents, and joy, the background of such cheer makes losing your temper all the more horrendous. The huge expectations of smiles, cheer, and joy, when you’re feeling stressed and miserable can turn even the cheeriest person into the most grouchiest Grinch.

But I’m here to tell you, you’re not alone. Christmas is not about having the perfect tree, presents, family, or kids. We are all so imperfect. But that’s ok. There’s only one perfect person, and that’s Jesus. And although we are trying to be like him, more so each day, we will mess up—but He is there, to help us when we stumble, forgive us when we ask—and share stories like this one to let others know that we are all human, and we mess up, sometimes horrendously.

And God knows this. He knows life is messy, miserable, and unmanageable at times. For all our noble efforts, we sometimes fall flat on our faces, with bruised egos and broken hearts. But He knows, he knows we are weak, made of clay. If we invite him into our messes—forget the posturing, holier-than-thous, and false humilities—if we invite him into our weaknesses and frailties, our messes, giving-ups, and I-can’t-handle-it’s, then He starts going through it with us. And that makes all the difference.

In conclusion: I spoke to my son about why it’s important not to curse, and how it bothers me. And I also asked for forgiveness for my expressions of anger—cursing myself, slamming the door, etc. After I spoke with my son, I realized, once again, how much I need God when parenting a child. Maybe that’s why God blessed me with one—to help me realize I can’t do this on my own, but need his help. And how much he is willing to help, if we’d only ask!

May you be blessed this Christmas, beyond the presents, parties, and gift-giving, and look to the life-giver, forgiver, and renewer of hope—Jesus himself . . . He came to this dark world as a vulnerable baby, to relate to us, and give enduring hope to mankind, and hope to you and me. Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

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