Grace on the Fly

Sometimes things just happen. Situations escalate. Children get overly rowdy while you are nursing, or changing a diaper, or elbow deep in raw chicken. You are making dinner, but they want snacks. The phone is ringing, there has been a potty incident, and the Jehovah Witnesses are at your doorbell. Someone breaks their necklace of beads, and the crawling baby has never been more thrilled to try to choke. It is usually at a time like this that one of your children starts standing out from the crowd, somehow provoking you to snap at them. It might be something as little as trying to stuff a toy into your back pocket. This is a situation that can easily get dramatically worse, due to Mom throwing in the attitude towel, or you can control yourself, blow it out, maybe laugh, and get a grip on it. The difference between these two responses is what I would call “getting the grace”.

There are a few common assumptions that I think get in the way of us dealing well with moments like these.  A lot of the time these things just creep into our mentality, and we never even look at them straight on. But they can be very destructive – leading us blind into explosive situations.

I feel like I need to squeak in a side-comment here. I remember when we just had Lina. Two adults, one infant. When I would see someone losing their cool with their child, I would wonder  what on earth would cause that. How can you lose your temper with a little kid? Come on, people! Get a grip! So if you are reading this and wondering why anyone would be wound up by a kid sticking something in your back pocket, just wait. Give yourself some time and some more children and check back in!

First, your personality is no snowflake. The fact that you have certain likes and dislikes and predispositions does not entitle you to any kind of special treatment. I like a clean and ordered house. That is my personality. The fact that I have five little children and seldom have a clean and ordered house is not an excuse for me to lose the bubble. Rather, it is an opportunity for me to grow. This is an area that God has seen fit to try me. I need to grow, and I don’t mean away from loving order and cleanliness, but towards loving people more than that. Often times when we say that we really love, or need _____  , it is just a more subtle way of saying that we love or need ourselves.

When I may be tempted to be frustrated about half of a PB & J smashed around one of the table legs, or wheat thins stuffed down the heat vent, this is a moment that I need to “get the grace.”

By that I really mean, to see myself and the situation as God sees me. So the wheat thins were a bit of a let down. Try to see yourself in the story, and try to be a character that you would like. Even as you discipline the child responsible for the wheat thin stuffing, keep a good eye on who you are being. In situations like  this, getting the grace might mean thanking God for the silly fingers that did this while you clean it up. Laughing at the story. Disciplining for the bad behavior while maintaining friendship with the children who did it. Enjoying the funny bits in your day because you have a perspective  to see them.

Second, grace is always available and never runs out. Throughout your day you may have several opportunities to lose the grip. You don’t need to. You may pass up that opportunity. Having the feeling is not the indisputable sign that this must happen. Losing the bubble is a conscious decision that you can avoid making. It takes “getting the grace” to pass it by. I think we all know what it is like to have a great big emotional door in front of us. You may charge on through, or turn and pass it by. When you feel the emotional surge coming at you (a bit like sitting at the top of a slide), get the grace. Hold your tongue, and blow it out. Pray that God will give you self control. Walk away from it. It is much harder to get off a slide while screaming around the second corner half way down with your hair blowing in the wind. Also harder for your husband to get you off the slide.  Just don’t go down it. Much better for everyone! Ask your husband for a hand as you back out of the chute.

Third, getting things right can be done as quickly as getting them wrong. My Dad always taught us that love is an action, not an emotion. You do not have to wait until you feel like doing the right thing to do the right thing. I think the majority of the times that I apologize to my children, confessing my sin both to them and to God, I don’t feel like it yet. Do not let things run out of control and burn off, waiting until you feel really bad and want to get it right. Get it right as soon as you get it wrong. Your emotions will follow. You don’t need to spend a certain amount of time in the midst of the fail. Get back out of it as soon as you get in.

This is such an important principle for mothers, because the challenges that we face are usually embedded in situations that you cannot walk away from. When the spirit in your house is revved up to a fever pitch, and things are really going crazy, and you feel a meltdown coming on, obey. Do not “let it rip” until you have a quiet moment (late at night after the kids are all asleep) to repent and feel bad about it. Obedience is the lifeline that God gives you. Do not wait to grab onto it. Think about how you feel when you see your kids teetering on the brink of a meltdown. You see what they are worried about, you see how little it is, and you see how they are not listening to what you say. They are choosing the far more difficult road by choosing  to wail, fuss, cry, and be disciplined over listening and sitting in the chair you picked out for them. So don’t do that to God. When you start flipping out about something, listen to Him. Do what He is telling you to do, and everything will become clear. Grab onto His grace and obey, and you will find that the grace is overwhelmingly abundant.

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33 thoughts on “Grace on the Fly

  1. When you start flipping out about something, listen to Him. Do what He is telling you to do, and everything will become clear. Grab onto His grace and obey, and you will find that the grace is overwhelmingly abundant.

    So good, it bears repeating. Thank you Lizzie – what a great encouragement.

  2. You are the best. Thank you.

    What in the world are those dogs doing on your wall? Other than helping you laugh, I’m assuming. Those are dogs, right? Like five random-breeded dog heads.

  3. Bean -I am truly surprised that you picked the dog heads out of that picture as the thing you weren’t sure about! It is a calendar that my sister in law gave me (and that is the February page). The cute eggs in the nest behind Blaire in the sweater post was the March picture, and now we are onto a bike with daisies.

  4. Rachel, this might sound strange, but when I saw this picture I was thinking “Oh, how nice, I’m not the only one, Rachel’s house gets dirty too”! It was kind of comforting!:)

  5. Thank for you this! I can definitely relate… except add 6 loads of laundry partially folded all over that floor! 🙂

  6. This is a very helpful exhortation to all of us moms. Thank you for talking about reality in such a helpful way.

  7. Thanks for your timely reminder. It’s especially helpful as I am on day 3 of single parenting four kids while my husband is away at a pastor’s conference. 🙂 Just another reminder that God is caring for me even while he is away!

  8. Love it! And I always love you pointing out that our attitudes to tackling work are just a grown-up version of little ones obeying authority. And as everyone said, yes, that picture looks so very familiar. And I love the broom on the side. It can be awfully hard to stow it away between needing it. (Plus it gets nabbed for forbidden horseback riding.)

  9. “So, the wheat thins were a bit of a let down”. That is too funny Rach. Thanks for this post and well done!

  10. Well, this is pretty wonderful encouragement. Thank you so much for taking the time to dash it all out. Presently trying to find the balance between the desire for a tidy home and the desire for a family home…filled with much grace and much laughing. Thank you for the pic and for many good “focusing” words.

  11. Wow. This is exactly what I needed today! Thank you! What an encouragement and admonishment at once! I have learned much just now!

  12. @lizziejank, ahhh, okay. Temporary dogs on a royal background are completely understandable. 🙂 That nest page was super cute…this is a very intriguing calendar.

  13. I love the bit about our personalities not being snowflakes. Sometimes I think that our generation(s) in the US were so much encouraged to see ourselves as being special and unique little princesses. Each of us having quirks which must be catered to……and it’s a real hindrance to sacrificial loving.
    Thanks for this post.

  14. Love this. And yes you’re right, if you only have one kid, just wait before you judge a mom with more.
    I have really enjoyed your book and it has spread around my mommies group like wildfire. I blogged through it and got lots of responses. Thanks for keeping it real.

  15. Well said, Rachel. And I think it is good to keep in mind even when our kids are older. Also, I love the tent in the livingroom. I used to let my kids do that all the time. We had great times in those tents 🙂

    Aunt Monica

  16. So very true and well-delivered! I love what you said about our personalities not being snowflakes. Once, in a state of despair over the state of my house when I was expecting company, my husband reminded me that “life is not about avoiding messes and people”. It’s so easy for me to get wrapped up in hospitality as “entertaining” and “impressing” rather than sincerely loving people and just simply opening my home.

  17. Rachel, this is excellent. These moments seem to be coming in abundance lately. And no, I’m not always taking hold of the grace that the Lord offers. This post is really the encouragement I need to do just that.

  18. The Sheet forts are so cool – we used to do them a lot when I was a kid – one little twist was, in the summer, to put a fan under them and they would blow up really big and the noise of the fan would make the whole experience other-worldly

  19. I’ll just say that this is the most reposts of a facebook post I have ever received, and I’m afraid I get none of the credit for it! Well said.

  20. Yes, I do remember the days of five. In the blink of a eye, they will be grown. Savor each day and remind yourself even the chaos will be a sweet memory if handled will grace!

  21. I’m still coming back to this one, and now headed to the printer to print it out and share it with others, too. Thanks again for taking the time to answer my question about “getting the grace!” This post is so encouraging and refreshing!!!

  22. Rachel…. Thanks again for this awesome post! You wrote it in reply to an email I wrote imploring you to share what you meant by “getting the grace” in one of your books. Many years later, I knew I needed to hear these words again and am just SO THANKFUL you took the time to share this. Thank you for your books and posts, and for setting the bar high on loving the little years (and beyond… is that your next book…hint hint!) even when you’re about to burst 🙂 May the Lord bless you!!

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