I was hurriedly brewing the coffee, throwing food into my lunch bag, and simultaneously thinking over my to-do-list for the day, and my current “what-ifs?” In no time at all, I could feel the stress of our running late and the inability to have any answers to the thoughts, playing over and over in my mind. Felicity was slowly getting her things together and her pace added to my frustrations. I wasn’t patient with her and was unkind in my “encouragement” for her to get ready and out to the car. She got frustrated with my impatience and for the two minutes before the bus arrived, the two of us didn’t speak to one another. I walked her to the bus, when it arrived, and I kissed her on the head and said, “Have a great day.” Yeah, I handed her my frustration (that had very little to do with her), packed it into her backpack, and then said, “Now that you have seen and heard me at my worst, you have a good one, sweet heart. Don’t let the last five minutes impact you at all.”
As soon as the bus turned the corner, I knew I had bombed the moment as a parent. “Have a great day?” How was that possible after I had let her know, in the most “jerky” way that she was going too slow and that she was always moving slower than she should, and that she ignored it every time I brought it to her attention? Why was she not reviewing the lecture notes (emphasis on lecture) I was providing in those not-so-fine moments? Yeah, I knew I had screwed up. I prayed and asked God for Felicity to erase the last five minutes from her brain and I made plans to ask for her forgiveness when she got home that afternoon. In our home, we are open and honest about our mistakes, regardless of our height and age. “I am sorry” is as frequently said as “I love you to pieces”…ok, and “we need more cookies!”
Friend, what gift do you leave for others after you have left their presence?Is it a shock and awe campaign, where others are searching for what remains of their respect, dignity, and self-worth? Are you repackaging hurt and frustration, and sending one “gift” after the other to those around you? My deepest desire and goal is that after I have left the presence of friends and family, they are left knowing that they are loved and cared for, regardless of what we discussed. I am working on this, because even as I type this, I can think of a couple conversations this week, where a gift evoking love and respect was the furthest thing from the “present” I left the person I was speaking to. Like I said, I am working on this. Our words and actions do count. They can be that kind, encouraging, loving, and intentional gift prominently displayed in the lives of those we encounter. Likewise, our presents of presence can be painfully thrown to the back of someone’s mind, or even hurtfully re-gifted for another unsuspecting recipient. This isn’t about being perfect or ignoring the reality that frustrations and ugly conversations will happen. They do and will happen to all of us. Let’s not continue to use our humanity as an excuse to not try and do better. This intentional effort will become a gift that will truly keep giving.