Zephaniah 3:17 – The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (ESV)
I blame the kale.
All pre-chopped and bagged.
It’s why I took the kids into the store in the first place.
Have you ever been to Trader Joe’s? It’s—interesting. The layout is odd, it’s significantly smaller than I thought it would be, and the shopping carts are tiny.
On this morning, I plopped my three-year-old into the back of the cart and allowed my 5-year-old to ride along on the outside. You know. The way the little diagram on the seat warns against? Yep. That way.
It would have been fine if I hadn’t paused to grab the kale.
That light-weight shopping cart couldn’t handle the combined weight of both boys at one end, and in a flash, it flipped. The three-year-old rode it down and tumbled out with nary a scratch. (I think he enjoyed it). My five-year-old suffered two completely different injuries.
The first was physical. The cart landed on his arm. So minor it never even bruised.
The second was to his heart, and there was nothing minor about that one. He stood there, tears pooling in the eyes he refused to raise from the floor, saying, “I’m sorry, Mama, I’m sorry, Mama” over and over. And because he is so much like me, I knew that his regret had as much to do with causing a scene—with “messing up”—as it did with the trampled flowers and flying strawberries.
Once I’d confirmed no one was bleeding, I sat right there in the middle of Trader Joe’s and whispered, “Baby, it’s fine. You didn’t do anything wrong. It was an accident. I’m not upset. I think you’re awesome and I’m so glad you’re okay.”
I want my little man to grow up secure in the knowledge that there is nothing—NOTHING—he can do, that will ever change my feelings for him. He’s going to make messes and he’s going to get hurt, and he needs to know that I am always and forever going to be on his side.
But the truth was that even as I comforted my little guy, I was fighting the voices in my head. You know the ones who point out how everything you just did was W-R-O-N-G. The ones pointing out the workers righting the buggy, the shoppers pausing to see if the kids were okay, someone picking up the kale. All because of my mistake.
By the time we had finished shopping, the voices in my head were screaming. I was replaying the incident from the moment I put the boys in the cart, to the second I turned loose to grab the kale, to the fact that I was so focused on the kids, I never thanked the people who got the buggy back on its wheels or located my strawberries and how rude was that and was I teaching my kids to be ungrateful?
As we approached the cashier, a woman asked if the boys were okay. Then she did the craziest thing. She looked at me and said, “You’re such a great mom. The way you were comforting him . . . you’re doing a great job.”
I wanted to ask her if she’d noticed that I was the “great” mom who’d let her kids be mauled by a red shopping cart, but instead I mumbled something like “Thanks, just glad they weren’t hurt” and moved on before her words made me cry.
It wasn’t until much later that I realized what had happened. That my heavenly Father—who saw the whole thing go down and knows me better than I know myself—chose, in that topsy-turvy moment, to remind me that He thinks I’m awesome. And He used a stranger to say it for Him.
He knows that while I have no trouble believing He loves me when I’m singing praise songs with the kids or volunteering in Sunday school, it’s so much harder to believe when I’ve messed up. Dropped the ball. Blown it.
I don’t know how your week has been. How you’ve struggled. Where you’ve failed.
But this I know.
He loves you.
He thinks you’re awesome.
Father – Help us to rest in your extravagant love. May we share that same love with everyone we meet.