This morning, I tromped down North Market Street, twice yelling at my kids. This afternoon, I plodded up Spears, incredibly thankful to still have them.
You ever have one of those days when your attitude just doesn't match your circumstances? This morning as I pushed my double-stroller down the sidewalk, I wondered how I could be so irritable when the sun was shining, the breeze was blowing, and the birds were singing.
And yet, when my son stepped into the road before I told him to cross, I lashed out with many more decibels than was warranted and scared my son. I felt kind of rotten and asked him to forgive me. About two blocks later, I did basically the same thing. But this time, it was worse.
In their crossing, my kids unwittingly veered out into the traffic lane. I yelled, caught Selah by the arm, and half-dragged, half-lifted her onto the sidewalk. I should have been walking on the outside of my children.
That's when the silent accusations starting darting through my mind: "Gosh. You're a lousy parent. What if your kids had been hit? You say that kids are supposed to a blessing. You've been treating them like a curse. What would the other parents at church say if they saw you right now?" Of course, this would happen right after we'd talked about Love being patient and kind in Sunday School.
So, again, I apologized to my kids and explained that they needed to stay in the stroller till we got to the playground. Once they were settled, I started walking again.
Now normally, this is the part where I would indulge in feeling like a worm for several hours, confess my crimes, nod at the cross, and still feel like a general disappointment to God and family.
But today, I actually skipped the wormy part and told God I'd screwed up. I wasn't just being unkind to the kids in my heart and words, I was also idolizing the world's approval. Yelling at my kids and their not heeding me 100% perfectly damaged my image. I needed more than a simple attitude adjustment. I needed forgiveness.
God gave it. I had this sense that he had basically said, "Yeah, I know. I've already paid for that. I really do forgive you."
Then... lightness. Of heart. Of mind. Of step.
Our time at the playground went fine. I kept the kids in the stroller on the way back just so we could be a little safer.
Then, at the corner of North Market and Frasier, we had a close call.
I saw the traffic signal give the go-ahead for pedestrians to cross. I saw the tan car wanting to make a right hand turn. But the driver in the tan car did not see me.
And as I crossed in front of her right front wheel, she started to turn. I yelled again -- this time out of alarm. The car bumped Selah's side of the stroller. Elijah fell out in the street.
Thankfully, the lady braked quickly, and I backed up onto the sidewalk again. The lady was obviously sorry and had a handicapped tag hanging from her mirror. She'd assumed from my position that I wasn't intending to cross her path. A couple ladies nearby asked if I wanted to call 911 or the police, but Elijah didn't even need a band-aid.
The emotion of what happened didn't actually catch up with me until a block later. And yes, I cried. I soon wheeled away from the main road and headed for the quieter street that runs through my neighborhood. I didn't feel up to chatting with the neighbors just then, but I felt grateful for God's mercy.
I know God still would have been good if we all had gotten run over, but it's much more pleasant to spend the afternoon in my living room with tea instead of in the ER with an IV.
I learned a lot about road grace.
P.S. I will post the second part of "Sarah's Coat" next week.