4am. It happened. Perhaps it was because I had visited the girls gravesites for the first time in a few months the day before. Perhaps it was because I was hanging out with friends that evening in the Princess section of the Disney store and I couldn’t help but think of what it would be like to see my girls get all wide-eyed at the sparkly dresses and sweet little dolls (if they would even be into Princess things, that I don’t know.) I was missing them. The ache a bit more palpable then most days now. Perhaps it’s because it’s was August, which means it’s was almost September, which means it was almost the season of birthdays for two little girls who weren’t here to celebrate them with us.
I still thought we were far enough away from those significant dates that I had a bit more time to prepare my heart for the waves of grief that would inevitably roll in. But grief has no timetable, how could I forget? Perhaps it’s because my husband and I had just had an argument. Resolved, but still my heart a bit raw and tender. And 4am is not the best time for filters to be on and cups to be bumped.
I got up to feed Jaden, reaching for one of his bottles over the sea of dirty dishes we didn’t have the energy to clean the night before. When somehow I knocked over the one glass filled not just with water, but dirty smoothie water that seemed to be aimed right at me. Sticky, smoothie water everywhere. On the floor. On my pants. On my shirt. My cup officially bumped, and what came out? An unpleasant string of expletives. My husband quickly, kindly and graciously gets up to help me clean. I’m frustrated, frustrated that I woke him, frustrated that I’m soaking wet, frustrated that such words flowed so freely, so quickly. Jaden had just been waking up when I had gone in right before to check on him, before his momma lost it in the kitchen. I went to get him after I had cleaned myself up and there he was just laying in his crib, with those sweet big brown eyes wide open, staring at me as if to say “Momma, what just happened?” Too stunned himself to even cry for food. I know he heard the words. I know he couldn’t understand them… but someday he will.
I gently picked him up, cradled him in my arms as we sat in the rocking chair and I held the bottle in his mouth watching his sweet face look up at me as he snuggled into my chest. I fed him, and tears filled my eyes. Sadness at my sin. Sadness at how my sin affects others, my husband, my son. And so I did what my mom taught me long ago, whenever she would sin around us. Though I knew he couldn’t understand, I knew this habit of seeking his forgiveness, of recognizing when I’ve done wrong and owning it in front of him, especially when that wrong is done in his presence, needed to happen.
“Jaden, you heard mommy angry and saying not very nice words. I’m so sorry. I need Jesus to help make my heart more soft and kind when these things happen. Will you forgive me?”
No words spoken back, just those sweet soft brown eyes looking up at me. I confessed to the Lord, to my husband, to my son. His grace washing over me.
It’s in these moments in life where the raw places of my heart spill out in front of others that I realize how utterly dependent I am on the Lord to change me. Perhaps it was grief that was a catalyst for my reaction, perhaps it was the argument, perhaps it’s the fact that I was exhausted at 4am (who isn’t??). Regardless the reason, none of those give me permission to be okay with the ugly that comes out when my cup is bumped. Awareness, yes. Permission, no. And it is in the awareness of the stress and circumstances that surround my daily life that I can more quickly run to my Savior and say;
“I can’t, but you can. Cleanse my heart Jesus. I humbly come to you. Only you can help me love. Only you can help me serve. And only you can do such a work in my heart that when my cup is bumped rivers of life come out instead of destruction.”
Lets be honest, whether in front of our friends, our kids, our spouse, our cup is probably bumped multiple times throughout the week (if not day). And do you know what our children will learn when we are quick to seek their forgiveness when they see us mess up, when we are quick to confess to Jesus and experience His forgiveness and our desperate need for Him to change us in front of them? They’ll learn, what my mom taught me long ago, that the Christian life is not the perfect life, but the broken life made perfect by Christ. And they will learn what to do with that brokenness, to bring it to Jesus and see Him begin to change them bump by bump, broken piece by broken piece, moment by moment ever transforming our lives to reflect and look more and more like Jesus Himself.