Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Fish That Almost Got Away

I'm a working mom.  Now, every mom is a working mom.  What I mean is I work outside the home and inside the home.  But this Christmas season I am taking some time off to rest and spend time with my family. Just one hat this season:  The Home Hat.  It looks like a hard hat somedays, the yellow, plastic, contruction worker hat that protects you from beams falling on your head kind.

My 11 year old son Max has a really pretty turquoise and blue Beta fish named Eli that needed some water conditioner, so I thought I would do one better and get him some plants for his square shaped plastic aquarium. Max was excited, and it seemed Eli was happy too when he saw the plants sitting outside his aquarium.  I was concerned about Eli's survival rate, so I decided I had better do the changing of the water part because we needed to take Eli out to clean it.  I had done this many times.  Only one time before had it gone bad, when I was in college.  That was a long time ago, right?  Well, this was the second time. It's still a blur but what my trauma-filled mind does remember is Eli jumping out of my teacup I was trying to catch him with (note to self I should have used a FISH NET and not my Mikassa Italian Countryside teacup), I screamed, Max yelled, and then I saw Eli under the grate of the sink.  All I could do was hold my hand in the drain to catch him and pray.

Thank the good and merciful Lord I did catch him as he was sliding down the drain and somehow he stayed in my slippery hand as I put him in the cup!  I declared praise to God and looked at Max's face who by now was in shock.  I told him how sorry I was...over and over...and how I was afraid HE would be the one to lead Eli to his death and it was ME!  All I could do was praise and confess.

Christmas miracles come in all shapes and sizes, don't they?  Standing at the sink, with my invisible hard hat on, traumatized child next to me, traumatized fish in the teacup, additional family members in the living room holding their breath, and me, the humble parent once again.

Pia Mellody writes about a concept called "Perfectly Imperfect" in The Intimacy Factor where we learn to accept our authentic selves and not live in too much shame when we are not our ideal self. Healthy shame is conviction, when we have done something bad it helps us to change course.  Unhealthy shame is when we believe the lie that we are bad, that we feel that our behavior is a life sentence for our identity and it keeps us stuck.  In God's eyes the latter could not be further from the truth.

But there is a twist. We are not meant to be perfect, but we are meant to yearn for it.  It's a God-given longing.  Jesus sets the example and the Holy Spirit lights the way so that we can walk in imperfection with a Savior who IS perfect and who helps us and meets our needs.

I see a lot of good parents in my practice.  Many of them struggle accepting the fact that they are good parents.  Not perfect parents, but good ones.  The good parent is the parent that keeps trying, learning new skills, seeking those who can help.  They continue to advocate, keep growing as individuals and as a couple if married, and even keep laughing at themselves when they almost kill their son's pet 7 days before Christmas.

As parents, as human beings for that matter, we are compelled to do things just right.  What I learned once again yesterday was that I have a longing to be a great mom, but I'm imperfect.  So the balance of both is to have one foot grounded in my authentic self that gives grace to myself and the other foot grounded in the reality that Jesus is my absolute strength in weakness (2Cor. 12:9).

The Lord reached in and helped to save the day.  He does that.  And then He reminded me of something else in  my modern day parable at the kitchen sink, that it's time to let go a bit more.  I am imperfect, and in His perfection He accepts me as is.  That is the kind of parent I want to be, too.  And Lord help me, Max is ready to take care of Eli.  So guess what else Max is getting for Christmas...a fish net.

Merry "Perfectly Imperfect" Christmas friends!  And in case you have your own Christmas Miracle may you laugh and learn along the way.

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