A couple of weeks ago, I lost my temper with Caden and really yelled. Like REALLY yelled.
Not just a “raise-your-voice-with-a-little-edge-to-get-their-attention” and not just an “I-am-using-my-serious-mom-voice-so-you-had-better-heed-my-words-now” voice.
This was a “mommy-has-had-enough-of your-continual-whining-and-refusal-to-obey-and-now-you-just-peed-on-the-floor-because-you-were-throwing-a-fit-and-not-paying-attention” yell.
A yell that (no joke) made him fall off the potty.
A yell that caused him to cover his little, violated ears.
A yell that made him immediately cry.
And a yell that resulted in a sore throat for the remainder of my day.
Umm…yeah. THAT kind of yell.
I have dubbed it, “The Dragon Yell.”
But it’s been 13 days since that morning, so why am I STILL reeling from that morning?
Well, it’s certainly not because I have never yelled like that before because trust me…OH, HAVE I (just ask Don)…but that short-tempered, spit-fire side of Jessica hasn’t reared its ugly head in a LONG time and certainly not with the kids. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I “dragon-yelled” in a long time. Now, ask me the last time I got snippy or wanted to “dragon-yell,” and I would probably have to confess that it was like less than 2 minutes ago. But to actually haul off and let loose like a crazed, wild-woman…well, it’s been a LONG time since that’s happened.
So yes, my yell that roused itself from hibernation was PART of the reason I’m still shell-shocked but there was something else that happened that morning in the bathroom that I didn’t mention, and that’s the BIGGEST reason for my prolonged reeling.
That “something else” was WAY more deafening than the gigantic roar that came bellowing from my mouth.
That “something else” was Caden’s response to my “dragon-yell.”
And I guess that’s the whole reason I’m even recounting this whole, ugly episode in the first place. Because honestly, I can’t stop thinking about his response.
REWIND to that morning…
After repeatedly screaming, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?” at the top of my lungs, I stormed to the kitchen to retrieve the anti-bacterial cleaner. And just as fast as I had fumed and blew my gasket, the guilt and remorse came even faster.
How stupid and careless of me!
How ridiculous and immature of me!
How unkind and impatient of me!
For goodness sake, how absolutely UNLOVING of me!!
I was a jerk, and I went berserk.
I was a freak, and I failed.
I blew it, and I KNEW IT.
Dragging my guilt and shame behind me, I walked back to the bathroom. And before I even had the chance to ask for forgiveness from the very same mouth that had just spewed ugliness, he uttered the following words:
“Mommy, I love you.”
And as I write out those four, little words, I weep now like I did then.
I had a hard time trusting what my ears were hearing. Did he say what I think he did?
Did he really respond to my UNLOVING yell with a LOVING response?
Why wasn’t he crying in a heap? Why didn’t he yell back? Why wasn’t he giving me the cold shoulder?
WHY didn’t he just give me what I DESERVED??
Kneeling on the bathroom floor in front of my son, my eyes filled with tears as I grabbed hold of his little hands and said the only words I could speak in that moment, “Thank you, buddy.”
I was completely humbled; what a gift of undeserved grace.
For the second time, I opened my mouth to ask for my son’s forgiveness but this time, my Savior interrupted my heart with the following six words:
“Jessica, I STILL love you, TOO.”
I just sat there and cried.
I didn’t need a reminder of the wrong I had done. I wouldn’t forget.
I didn’t need my sin rubbed in my face. I was already rubbing.
I didn’t need to be rebuked for the wrong I had committed. I am the queen of self-reprimanding.
I didn’t need those things because I’m already really good at all those “R” things.
In that moment, what I needed more than anything was a GIFT OF GRACE.
In fact, I needed to hear those undeserved, loving words…not once, but twice that morning.
After a few hugs, several apologies, some more tears, and a shared prayer of confession, we left the bathroom and continued on with our morning. And when I say, “we continued,” we did just that. No reminders, no rubbing, no rebuking…he graciously let it go.
On that morning, God so clearly used Caden to bring to life the words of Psalm 103:10-12.
“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
I don’t recount this moment with pride, and I certainly don’t remember this moment with fondness. Not…at…all.
But here’s what I do recall when I think back to that morning…
God used my son to extend a piece of His grace toward my sin in a moment when I needed it the most.
And though God takes the sin of His children seriously, sin doesn’t get the final say.
As I replay this moment and dwell on His grace, I can’t help but hum the sweet, old refrain to one of my favorite hymns.
“Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin!”
-Grace Greater Than Our Sin, by Julia Johnston