Knowing Their Frames

Recently, one of my children accused me of wanting her to be perfect.

After the initial denial, I realized she was right.

Mamas are supposed to hold the standard high, aren’t we? If I do, maybe they won’t fail in life. Maybe they won’t suffer through the school of hard knocks like I did. Instill some discipline, establish healthy eating habits, set them on the straight and narrow and they’ll turn out okay.

Or so goes the thought.

But tucked somewhere in all the ‘shoulds’ and the ‘going against the grain’ and the ‘doing hard things’ needs to be something else:  A fat measure of ‘knowing their frames.’ Without that, our best intentions are tyrannical and will only produce heartless, judgmental automatons.

I think of this especially as I watch them sitting next to me in church, a huge line of children, my children, all so beautiful, all needing love, each with his or her own struggles. Maybe it’s because sitting in church is one of the only times they sit still enough to observe them. Maybe it’s because in church we’re all a bit more vulnerable, a bit more impressionable, a bit more aware of our weaknesses. It’s also a place we should be, despite all these things, more aware of the grace lavished on our parched and broken souls than any other time in the week.

The foundation has been laid. My kids know how to sweep the corners of the kitchen and how to properly put the refried beans away in the refrigerator. They try hard and they work hard. They know what is expected. But do they know grace? Do I? Sure, there are times to push and force and make the point stick. But there are also times to do a boy’s dishes for him when he’s been gone on a Boy Scout project all day. For pulling little bodies into tickle sessions when exhaustion-induced bickering breaks out. For stroking the soft cheeks of a boy while he tells me the contents of his not-even-close-to-perfect heart. Lectures can wait. Other opportunities to rebuke and remind will come.

But, for tonight…grace.

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