Monday, August 5, 2013

Of Grace and Erasers

Some of you may remember my post about imperfectionism.  In it I said if our family had a mascot it would be a worn out eraser, because we make mistakes and have to course correct daily.

But what I've found in training my kids is this:  I expect them not to use their eraser as much as I use mine.

I want my eraser to be able to look like this...

And theirs to look like this...

Seems rather unfair.  And it is.  How often do I tell them to use honest words and try their best at all times?  A lot.  How often do I gloss over things that show me in a bad light or give myself permission to not accomplish all I could in a day?  A lot more than I'd care to admit.

This little realization has led me to a conclusion.  My girls are people, not robots.  I may want them to respond perfectly in every situation.  I may want them to complete each task wholeheartedly and without cutting corners.  I may want them to tell everything they've ever done with stark reality.  But they won't always hit that mark.  They will sometimes fall short.  I do.

A while back I decided to give everyone a little breathing room.  It's really about giving them the grace to make mistakes and learn from them.  It's what I am thankful for when others give it to me.  It's what I am thankful for daily from a God who gives second chances, and third, fourth, fifths...

A slight word of warning here.  The new one is going to walk all over that grace.  It's not the end of the world.  It doesn't mean you never give it.  It just means you need to be mindful of areas where it's appropriate and areas where it's not.

For example, one night nine-year old Hannah wet the bed.  She was nine.  It happens.  No big deal.  It was the middle of the night.  I got up, put her in the tub, placed her bedding in the washer and made her a pallet on my floor.  Problem solved.  Or so I thought.

What do you think happened the next night?  She wet the bed again.  Up until this point, bedwetting had not been an issue for us.  Suddenly it was.  Now, let me stop here for a moment.  Some of you might think that maybe there was a medical problem involved.  There wasn't.  She was perfectly healthy.  

What did she want?  The attention she received in the middle of the night and to sleep on the floor in my room.  What would have happened if I continued to allow that?  She would still be sleeping on my floor.  So night two had some tough love.  She had to shower in the middle of the night and wash her own sheets.  She finished out the night on the floor of her room.  She hasn't wet the bed since.  

I say all that to say, the new one may try to take advantage of your grace.  Don't let it make you mad.  Correct the problem and move on.  You'll find those areas where grace will have the greatest impact and you'll find other areas where you will need to hold them accountable.  

Sometimes it will seem as if grace is never appropriate for the new kid, but it is.  Just make sure your grace is not going to put her or someone else in harm's way, then give it a try.  You'll find some area you can sprinkle a little grace into, if you look hard enough.  Sometimes I've felt like I had to use a microscope.

Allow her to use her eraser, or better yet chip in and help her correct that mistake.  It might make yours wear down a little faster, but it will be worth it when she sees you coming alongside her to help, rather than looking down on her in judgement.  

There's a time and place for accountability.  There's a time and place for grace.  It's all about learning the difference between the two.  

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