I Don’t Sugarcoat {CELEBRATE This Week: 112}

I’m glad you are here to celebrate! Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details here. Celebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Consider it as a weekend celebration. Whenever it fits in your life, add your link. Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.

My phone rang as I pulled into the school parking lot. I looked at the incoming call and reminded myself not to be annoyed. The morning was not pleasant and I didn’t really want to talk to the child who said, “It’s not like you really care what you get me for Christmas. I just get whatever you grab at the last minute. You don’t care whether I will like it or not. You don’t even care what I say, because there you go off to work.”

I hugged her and said, “I love you, even when you speak unkind and untrue words.” Then I went off to work.

I took a deep breath and answered the phone. Sniffles greeted me from the other end. “Mom?” Sniff. Sniff.

I didn’t sigh.

Sniff. “I feel really horrible about what I said today. I don’t know why I said those things. I didn’t even mean them.”

“It’s okay.” It’s okay. It’s okay.

December is a stressful month, so it’s a good time to extend an extra dollop of grace. I’ve been learning the power of silence. Listening tends to be more powerful than speaking.

Later that night, at bedtime, she says, “I need to talk to you.”

I wish I didn’t sigh. “It’s bedtime,” I said.

“I know, but there’s something I need to tell you and I shouldn’t wait any longer.”

I wish I didn’t sigh again. “Please tell me it’s not about boys and lying.”

She said, “If you don’t want me to talk to you about it, I can go to bed.”

I would think the third time I could control my sigh. I still sighed.

I sit in my favorite place, next to the Christmas tree, with my freshly brewed coffee and my laptop. She sat across from me in her favorite chair. “Were you going to write?” she asked.

“I was, but now we’re going to talk.” I tell myself to be kind. Be kind. Be kind.

She tells me the story that is hard to tell. Tears fall and I’m reminded to be kind.

“I keep doing the same wrong thing over and over,” she said. “It must just be the way I’m made. There’s nothing I can do about it.”

I look at her and speak profound truth. “Stop it.” I’m curt and she winces at the sharp words.

The tears let loose and she whines, “There’s nothing I can do to stop making one bad choice after another it.”

“I’m not joking,” I say. “Stop it. You are a child of God, a beautiful and worthy and important person created for good works.”

She stares at me and for a moment I feel sorry that she has me for a mom. I’m not very good at sugarcoating anything, and I’m intolerant of self-pity. I remind myself that it’s hard to be fourteen and it’s even harder to overcome a hard history. I pray for a soft heart.

“It’s true,” she says, “I keep doing the same dumb thing.”

I lift her chin to face me and I lean in. “The truth is you will always fight to do the right thing. It’s also true that you are never going to be perfect. It’s why Jesus died for you. We’re not going for perfection, sweetie, we’re going for a speedy recovery. You recognized what was happening way faster than last time. You came to me. You’re talking it through. You’ve come up with a plan.”

“I did realize it sooner, this time.” She smiled, then rolled her eyes. “I still feel stupid.”

“Don’t.” I said. “Instead, smile and live in the freedom that you are forgiven. You’ll mess up again, but hopefully you’ll notice it sooner and overcome this temptation. Then you’ll have a new lesson to learn. It’s a lifelong cycle. Still, in the grand scheme of life, this really isn’t a big deal. Nothing is damaged and you’re learning.”

It’s best when we can learn big lessons from little mistakes.

“It’s so hard,” she said.

I look at her and think about everything she has overcome. “Is it the hardest thing you’ve ever done?” I ask.

She snorted a laugh. Her hand flew to her mouth and she giggled about the snort. She rolled her eyes, “This isn’t anywhere close to the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” she said.

“Then don’t make it into a bigger deal than it needs to be. Learn from it and move on.”

I celebrate not making things into a bigger deal than they need to be. I celebrate learning that a mistake is not the end of the world. And I celebrate victory in overcoming hard things to become who God made us to be.

Connect your celebrations here!


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  1. I see this came early. I was looking at the new posts, and there you were. Just wanted to say you are a good and wise mom, and no matter where they come from, fourteen year olds are not easy, not for moms and dads, and not for themselves. Hugs for sharing. I've been there, and I sighed too, I'm sure.

  2. Love this post!

    I like how you admitted to sighing.
    I think you both needed each other at this trying time.

    Merry Christmas.

    Looks like I am the first person to link.

  3. Oh Ruth, I want also to celebrate not making things bigger than they need or deserve to be. I had to work very hard today to do this and was so grateful for a friend at work who helped me stay strong.

  4. Thank you for sharing your honest celebrations! Showing grace to those we love and to ourselves can be challenging in stressful times. I love how hard you work to listen and to be present and in the moment. It's something I'm working on too.

  5. Ruth, I am a big sigher also but I have come to realize that it is in that tiny moment of the sigh that I open myself to God's wisdom. Sometimes a person does need to be told to “snap out of it”.

  6. There is a reason you are taking on this task. It was meant for you. I am impressed that she felt she could come back to you and talk. I raised three daughters and what I did right was communicate and listen. They need to hear the strong words from us because they are not hearing them yet inside themselves. Eventually your talk will become self talk.