He turned the dial and the music cranked, pulsating my (smokin’ hot) minivan as we puttered down the road. Grabbing my camera, he held it out in front of us and snapped a photo, documenting the moment…and Landon’s apparent chagrin.
When we gave Sloan his iPod for Christmas, we loaded it full of music first. We wanted to make sure he had a wide variety of classics, so we downloaded Frank Sinatra, Coldplay, Lacrae, vintage Audio Adrenaline, Michael Buble, Patty Griffin and, of course, DC Talk.
Because we are good Christian parents.
Jesus Freak now blares boldly through the speakers inside our home, and our cars. We jam our way down the road, singing at the top of our lungs:
What will people think when they hear that I’m a Jesus Freak?
What will people do when they find that it’s true?
I don’t really care if they label me a Jesus Freak.
There ain’t no disguising the truth.
We sing and play wicked air guitar, and Lee and I feel good about the theology we’re passing down to our children. I mean, c’mon man: People say I’m strange. Does it make me a stranger? My best friend was born in a manger.
DON’T PRETEND YOU’RE NOT SINGING ALONG!
And so it was that we jammed our way down the road when we passed a police car and ambulance stopped on the shoulder, reaching in to help an older man who had veered off into a side rail. Sloan immediately turned the music down and watched intently as we drove past.
“Oh man,” he said quietly. “That looked bad. What do you think happened?”
I glanced at the situation and told him I had no idea, then I waited for him to turn the music back up so we could go back to our jam. He twisted the dial and the car filled with the bass and drums and electric guitar, and I moved right past the man in his car. But not Sloan. He sat still for a minute, then turned the music back down.
“Sorry mom,” he said. “But…I just…um…can I pray for that man back there?”
I quit drumming along and nodded my head. “Of course you can!” I exclaimed.
“Okay,” he replied. “Good. I’m gonna pray. You pray with me. But don’t close your eyes, okay?! I mean, I think that you should keep them open while you drive.”
He then proceeded to pray the sweetest prayer for a stranger on the side of the road. Prayer for safety and healing. Prayer for wisdom for doctors, and for the man not to feel too badly about the accident. It was tender-hearted and generous, and it stopped me in my tracks.
On any given day, I am certain that I am failing this motherhood gig. I get frustrated with them. I nag. I yell. I overreact. I read with one kid, and let the other two down. I focus on the baby too much, and the older three feel neglected.
It’s easy to get lost in the faults, and to see every flaw in myself and the children. He loses his temper, she is stubborn as the day is long, and he can’t lose graciously.
(Nothing is wrong with Annika, yet. So far she is perfect…like a tiny Mary Poppins)
I get lost in all our shortcomings, and I miss the amazing little people that they’re growing up to be, and the good job I’m doing at being their mom. He gets angry, yes – but he’s also the first to ask forgiveness, and has a heart of mercy the size of Texas.
She’s stubborn, yes – but she’s also deeply empathetic and compassionate. She begs to buy groceries for the man living in a tent behind Target because she feels the weight of his circumstance.
He can’t lose a game without falling apart, yes – but he’s also a peacemaker, quick to smooth things over when arguments break out.
It’s easy to lose sight of the good things in our children when we get lost in the day to day, hectic living. We get swallowed up by all the hard and the long days all mold one into another, and we start missing it altogether. And then they do something that takes our breath away, and remind us that this motherly work we’re doing is a worthy and good use of our time.
You’re working so hard to teach them how to live generous lives, and it’s hard! The rough edges of their little personalities need so much refining, but don’t lose sight of the diamonds that are shining through beneath the surface. You’re polishing little gems.
You may not see the reward right now, but one day when you least expect it, you may just find yourself being reminded of the impact that you’re having on your children.
And they will also help you remember what it felt like to empathize deeply with the world around you. Untainted by life and adulthood, they see the world through innocent eyes. It’s in those moments you find them teaching you instead of the other way around. That’s what happened to me yesterday.