“Mo! Mo!” Luke makes the sign for more even as he shouts that he wants more Cheerios.
I slump in my chair. Really? I just sat down for the tenth time, and I have yet to get a bite of my lunch because I have to keep hopping up to get salt or water or milk or refills or spoons or what-have-you.
“I’ll get them, Mama.” Jane goes to the kitchen and scrambles up onto the counter to be able to reach the Cheerios.
“Thanks, sweetie.” I take a breath and a bite of sandwich.
Something breakable shatters on the granite countertop.
I turn in my seat. Crouched on the counter, Jane is looking at me, her eyes wide and scared. “I’m sorry, Mama. I’m sorry! It was an accident! I slipped! I didn’t mean to.”
My great-grandmother’s blue-and-white china teacup lies in pieces around her. My own eyes widen in horror. I have so little that has reached me from my ancestors. This teacup, another that broke in a move, a cameo.
I blink, open my mouth to yell at Jane. A little voice in my mind screams, “Don’t do it! Don’t do it!” I snap my mouth shut and try to breathe.
Ephesians 4:1-2 says, “I, Paul,… urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.”
Last summer, when I was memorizing these verses, I always stopped cold at the second verse.
Those words about humility and gentleness and patience and love were so convicting to me. Every day I said them, and every day, they convicted me of how often I was not humble and gentle, let alone patient, particularly with my children, how often I did not bear in love with these precious people whom God has entrusted to me.
“I will hide your word in my heart,” the Psalmist says, “that I might not sin against you.”
I wish I could say I no longer sin in these ways, that hiding God’s words to the Ephesians in my heart has made me consistently and constantly humble and gentle and patient, bearing with my children—and everyone else—in love.
Nope. Hasn’t happened.
But I do notice moments when I choose patience and gentleness—moments when, in the past, I would have exploded with angry or impatient words. Moments like this one, when something—or more likely, Someone—gets between me and my habitual response of an angry outburst, reminds me of who I want to be.
Jane is still saying, “I’m sorry, Mama, I’m so sorry.”
I breathe, a big long inhale, a big long exhale. Then I go to her. “It’s okay, sweetie. I know you didn’t mean to.” I pick her up and carry her to the dining room. She’s not wearing shoes, and I don’t want her to cut herself on the little pieces on the counter or the floor. “You stay here,” I say, “while I pick up the pieces, okay?”
She holds onto my neck. “I didn’t mean to, Mama.”
“Oh sweetie, I know. I know it was an accident. I’m sad it happened, but I’m not angry with you.” This is only partially true. I am angry; I just know I shouldn’t be. Accidents happen. And it is, after all, only a teacup.
As I pick up the pieces and put them in a plastic container—someday I’ll want to try to glue it back together—I feel grateful that I didn’t freak out and yell at my daughter; grateful that today, the only thing that broke was a teacup.
An invitation for you:
Hide God’s Word in your heart
Because memorizing Scripture sends it deep into the neural pathways of our brains, works it into the very fiber of our being.
Because memorized Scripture will pop into our heads at opportune times, reminding us of how we want to live and who we want to be.
Because memorizing Scripture is something we can do with our kids.
Because having Scripture memorized allows us to be like the blessed person in Psalm 1, meditating on God’s Word day and night.
Ready to try?
If you’ve never memorized Scripture before, I encourage you to start with a few verses. I have a template and instructions for memorizing 1 Corinthians 13:1-7. I also have a sheet of helpful memorization techniques.
If you’re ready for a challenge, I invite you to join me in memorizing 1 John. A group of us have been slowly (and I do mean slowly) making our way through this book this year. If you choose to do this, you’ll definitely want to read through the helpful memorization techniques. And I’d love for you to let me know you’re starting on 1 John; I’ll add you to my list of people to encourage and exhort