Last week I went to camp with our daughter-in-law, Rachel, and their three children. Rachel was teaching at an InterVarsity conference and I came along to keep my sweethearts safe and cared for. The week went really well but I have to tell you about one little incident. Picture this with me: It's a difficult moment. Charles had ridden his big wheels to the playground area and after playing on the slides for a while, Lucy decides she is going to get on that little plastic wonder and ride it back.
She runs up to it and before I can even look up she backs off the road and finds herself pinned underneath, howling like crazy until I get to her and lift it off. She immediately jumps back on and takes ownership for a second time. This, of course, sends Charles into a tizzy, and he raises his voice above Lucy's.
I'm feeling a bit panicky. Oh boy. I had seen Rachel give the kids turns so I tell Lucy that she can ride up to the tall sign and then Charles gets to take over. (What I didn't pay attention to, was the fact that this point was the beginning of a gradual but significant down hill.) When we get to that spot, Lucy reluctantly gets off, but continues her verbal disagreement. Charles climbs on and takes off flying down the hill at what appears to be break-neck speed. I chase after him, yelling, "CHARLES!!" but am totally unable to catch up with the two. year. old. My attention comes back to Lucy and when I look up the hill, I find her on her belly, right in the middle of the street, crying with all she's got.
There I was, also in the middle.
Charles was going to die at the bottom of the hill. And Lucy was going to die at the top of the hill.
And you know what my first thought was?
"I'm so worthless. I'm no good at this. I'm so embarrassed."
Well, right now I'm embarrassed to admit that these were first. I should have been thinking, Oh dear they are both going to die! But instead I turned on myself agreeing that I was incapable of keeping order with two little kids: a three-year-old and a two-year-old, mind you.
Well, you'll be happy to know that neither child died that day. Charles was amazingly agile on his big wheels thingy, totally in control, laughing all the way. Eventually he stopped without a crash and turned around. Lucy was easily helped to her feet before any cars came by and she calmed down.
But it took me awhile. I brought the kids in to where their mama was waiting for them and I just sat down on the floor, embarrassment trying to bully me. Tired and discouraged, I needed time to collect my thoughts and sort out what happened. Rachel asked if I was OK; I'm not sure what I answered, but her concern warmed my heart.
But here's the truth. I am not worthless. I am good at loving those kids. It's OK to look silly sometimes and to laugh at yourself. And I finally came to that conclusion, along with - if anyone was watching - I provided a good laugh.
But lies seem to fly above my head, hovering for a weak moment in which to attack. That's when my covering of grace takes over. I stop, put my hand on my heart and remind myself that I am loved, I am capable and it's OK for things to go wrong sometimes. It's OK. I'm OK.
I momentarily forgot. In my panic, instead of resting in God's truth, I fell into an old pattern, one long ago rejected. One day I hope to find my automatic response to be: Test me O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me and I walk continually in your truth. (Psalm 26:2)
And next time Charles wants to take his big wheels to the park, will you remind me that I don't need that kind of excitement in my day? Perhaps I will come up with a different plan.