There is not a cup of coffee in the world strong enough to guarantee that my nerves aren’t at least mildly fried by the time I kiss my sweethearts good-bye for the day at 8:45am.
The last minute rush, even though my two girls have been awake for an hour and a half before we leave for school each day, is beyond my understanding.
“Did you brush your teeth?” I’ll ask, to which they answer back with nothing but blank stares…which means, “No.”
“Did you brush your hair….put your shoes on….where are your socks…you have gym today you can’t wear heals…that doesn’t match…wrong coat…where’s your hat…do you have your book-bag…is your homework in your folder…grab your lunch…run a lap around the house for acting insane…get in the van…stop fighting…”
A friend of mine passed on a fantastically helpful tip to review spelling and vocab words on the way to school…so before the T.Swift sing-along begins, I quiz them on the week’s words.
“Defeated,” I hollered back to my second grader, on the way to school at the tail end of another hectic morning.
“Not winning.” Brianne replied.
“You feel like you have lost,” I corrected, “Repeat.”
“You feel like you have lost,” she stated correctly.
“Curve,” I continued with the week’s list of vocab words.
“A bendy line…” my daughter trailed off.
“A line that has no straight parts,” I corrected, “Repeat.”
“A line that has no straight parts,” she said.
I fire off questions and commands one after another from the time they begin to get dressed in the morning, to the time they are hopping out of the car. They take a piece of my sanity with them…for sure. The sigh of both sadness and relief wash over me every morning after I watch them safely skip down the hallway into school.
Then, I look at my coffee cup and wonder who stole it all from my cup.
“Defeated- you feel like you have lost.”
Yes, that’s how I feel. Like I lost my cup of coffee somewhere between my house and the school. It surely must have evaporated from my cup and floated out of the van window…because I surely don’t remember enjoying a single sip…nor feel a shred more awake than I did when as my alarm went off in the dark of morning.
After all the vocab and spelling word review all week-long, I expect my daughter to get 100% on the tests each Friday. It seems harsh, I know, to expect a perfect score…but it’s not like I’m asking her to conquer new material.
No, I don’t make her run laps around the yard when she doesn’t get all of the answers right, but I have to be honest it’s disappointing. All of the effort that goes into making sure she has the tools and the means to succeed…and sometimes she can’t concentrate on her paper long enough to regurgitate the material. It’s a little frustrating.
I never want Brianne to feel defeated over any mistake or frustration she experiences, right now in the Second Grade Chronicles, or ever in her sweet, blessed life. Mistakes are OK, and I don’t love her any less.
God doesn’t make me feel that way.
Even though I get up every morning and study His Word, I still make the wrong choices. I act ridiculous even though I know better. But God does not make me feel defeated. Instead, the one who guards my heart speaks to it as only He can. He encourages me…comforts me…builds me back up daily through his Word and through prayer…and through amazing people He has surrounded my life with.
Defeat can creep up on sunny days, filled with laughter, family, and friends; and on lonely, bone-chilling days of isolation. What I often fail to realize in those moments, and on those days, is how normal it is to feel that way. I am learning to let myself off the hook. To free myself from the heaviness of guilt and shame, and choose to grab Christ by the hand to pull me up. Now when I make a mistake I know life is not over. I know I have a compassionate Father that I can come to as I am, unashamed. One who understands what it’s like to be human.
THAT’S the legacy I want to pass on to my daughters. Whether it’s a vocab quiz, a lie they got caught in, a fight with a friend, disobedience to their parents…or whatever rebellious period they go through in their lives.
It was only one word in a stack of flash cards.
When I first got the idea to write this blog I stashed only two cards from last week’s pile to remind me to write it. “Defeated,” and “Curve.” This week, we got a whole new stack of words.
Refuse, Accept, Ached, Clambered, Fair, Superior, Clutched, Clear, Feud, Though, Insult, Ago…
These are my kid’s vocabulary words! Yet every time I flipped a card over I found another piece of encouragement that I desperately needed to hear in this season of my life. Messages of recent sermons and worship songs…daily devos and Bible studies…prayers upon prayers…seemed to collaborate in this little pile of paper flashcards…
“Refuse-you don’t want it.” I refuse to be defeated. (1Thes 5:21)
“Accept-when you take something offered to you.” I accept God’s grace. (Eph 2:8)
“Ached-feel sore or in pain.” God, you healed my aches. (Psalm 30:2)
“Insult-say something mean.” Insults are evidence of being set a part. (John 15:19)
“Feud- having a big argument with someone.” I lift up my feuds up to the One who fights for me. (Exodus 14:14)
“Clear-easy to understand.” God’s Word is clear. (Proverbs 30:5 )
“Clutched-held something tightly.” I will hold onto Him tightly. (1 Tim 6:12, )
‘Superior-to be the best” He is superior. (Job 33:12 AB, Ps 95:3)
“Fair-you go by the rules” He is fair. (Deut 32:4)
I’m no Bible scholar and I’m terrible at recalling verses, but I do know God well enough to know that He was connecting some dots for me as I quizzed my daughter. I googled each phrase, and found dozens of verses associated with each topic.
I’m not going to retain these definitions infinitely better than my seven-year old, but I find great comfort in knowing that God does not hold me accountable for earning 100%, but I do believe He will re-route us in His Word and tell us to “repeat.”
“Be joyful always.”
1 Thes. 5:16