Of Grace and Strangers

My kids make me laugh and cry with equal regularity. They say crazy stuff that just leaves me scratching my head and wondering how on earth I’m supposed to react.. Today, it’s about grace and strangers.

Not long ago, I was disciplining my son for repeatedly not listening to me or responding to my request. When I’m driving, I can’t physically reach over and get his attention. I’m faced with one of three choices – throw something at him (not safe), pull over (wasn’t an option), or YELL HIS NAME REALLY LOUD.

Right or wrong (probably wrong), I went for option three. Once I had his attention, I repeated my request.

of grace and strangers

Here’s the strange part of “Grace and Strangers”

Me:  Will you please stop kicking your brother’s seat, it’s causing problems.

Watty:  (angry) Mommy, you hurt my heart.  You’re a stranger to me.

Me (calmly):  Would you care to explain what you think I did?

Watty: (folding his arms) I don’t talk to strangers.

The look on his face was priceless. He wasn’t angry, and he wasn’t hurt. He had the look of a mischievous little boy with a heart full of mischief. It was the look of a boy determined to push his luck and see just how loud he could make his mother yell. It was the look of a child who knew he had pushed things too far and was determined to see it through.

The strangest part!

I didn’t do the expected. I didn’t yell.

I laughed.

His shoulders sagged.

And here’s the grace part of  “Grace and Strangers”

Me: GoGo, would you kindly introduce me to your friend?

GoGo:  (giggles, speechless)

Watty:  That’s not funny mommy!  You know who I am.

Me: Yes, I do.  And I love you.

When I looked back, he had his arms folded over his chest and his eyes were dark.

Watty: No, you don’t.  I’m bad.

My mood turned suddenly serious, this was for keeps!  Grace happens in a heartbeat. I had a tiny sliver of time to get this thing right.

Me: Sweetheart, no matter how bad you think your choices were, I still love you.  Nothing changes that.

Watty:  No.

I’m not sure why, but we get in the toughest conversations when I’m driving. I found myself pulling into the nearest parking lot.

Me:  God loves you unconditionally.  No matter how big you think you messed up, Jesus still covers it, right?

Watty:  I guess so.

I opened the door to the the backseat.

Me: God loves you no matter what.

Watty:  (wordlessly climbing into a hug)

Me:  No matter what we have done wrong, God loves us anyway.  He loved us enough to send Jesus.  That’s called Grace, right?

Watty:  (no words, just hug)

Me:  Just like that, I love you no matter what you may have done.  I love you anyway.  That’s called mommy-grace.

Watty:  I love you too.

I’m so thankful I chose laughter. It would have been just as easy to keep yelling at my child for his antics and defiance. But that would have missed the mark. The question on the table wasn’t whether Watty would obey (he already had stopped kicking the seat). The question he really asked was “can I be bad enough to make you turn away?”

By laughing – by finding obvious delight in my child – I gave him the answer he needed.

Sometimes, laughter is a powerful tool.

Have you ever laughed at your child when they least expected it?  What was the result?

If you, like me, struggle with option three and find yourself yelling all too often, I’d love for you to check out my 31 day series on ANGER in motherhood. It was a game changer for me.

grace happens in a heartbeat

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Susan Baker
I have a passion for encouraging weary worn out mothers to find joy in everyday motherhood and peace in unlikely places. I have two elementary school boys, one nerdy husband, and two cats. I have a strange fascination for bad puns, the color pink, socks, and books. I worry about running out of toilet paper, wine, and chocolate.. I serve an amazing God. I live an ordinary life filled with wonder.
Susan Baker
Susan Baker

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