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Lighten Up

I was agitated. I had a long day at work. The lasagna I made took 4x as long to make and clean up than it did to eat, and no one was even all that impressed by it.

I was busy getting the last of dinner put away before we needed to jet out the door to get to my 5th grade son Ryan s baseball game. As I rinsed the final dish I said to my 1st grade daughter, Lauryn, I need you to brush your hair and get your shoes on your feet. Right now. We ve gotta go.  I ran upstairs to toss a load of clothes in the dryer and pull on my shoes.  Jog back down the stairs to see Lauryn still sitting in the middle of the living room floor.  Hair a mess.  No shoes.  Clearly day dreaming.

The agitation I mentioned in paragraph one had now escalated.

I stopped. Looked at her. And thought, I cannot think of a consequence for her at this moment.  My brain is fried.  I am annoyed.  I am late.  She is not ready to go.  What consequence is appropriate here .other than letting loose with the Are you KIDDING me right now?!?! speech that I wanted to spew all over her messy-headed self.  In my agitation, I was baffled as to what I should even say or do.

Then, in that still small voice, I hear the Lord say If anyone lacks wisdom, he should ask the Father who gives graciously to all without finding fault.

Okay then, Lord.  I need some help here.  I need some wisdom.

Then, Look at her.

I see her, Lord.  She s shoeless with messy hair and she is making me late.

Look again. Look.

I see her, Lord.  Okay, yes.  Yes . [deep breath] I see.  She s seven, and precious, and caught up in her own sweet world that s full of innocent daydreams. But Lord, she clearly disobeyed.  I told her to brush her hair.  Find her shoes.  She didn t.  What now?



Yes. Grace.  Lighten up.  She can put her shoes on in the car, and the baseball fields don t require combed hair for entrance. It s okay.  Take a breath, and enjoy her.  Gather her up sweetly, guide her with shoes in hand to the car, and go watch your boy play some baseball.

Oh. Okay. Yes. I guess I can do that.




At the ball fields, a hat covering up that unbrushed hair!

And so off we went. The Holy Spirit gifted me with a change of heart: From agitation to enjoyment. From wanting to discipline her (not for her benefit, but because I was annoyed) .to extending grace.  He is so, so good to answer when we call to Him. Sometimes the answer saves the mood of the entire evening. I so enjoyed riding to baseball singing along to the radio together, rather than spending the drive lecturing!

Obviously, I am all for kids learning to be quick to obey, and I expect that my kids respect me by doing what I ask. But I m grateful for a God who sees the whole picture and knows when a mom needs to be reminded to just take a breath and lighten up. Sometimes, it s just a pair of shoes.


Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.