Grace and Peace to the Man in the Co-op
I need grace and peace like never before. Grace towards myself and grace towards others too. Peace about the everyday ins and outs, about the little things and about the big things too. Maybe it’s this season/stage/episode of life; with all its emotional highs and lows, the million questions, the 4 hours sleep a night or the new brilliant juggling act of two people (plus myself) to keep alive; Hudson and sweet Smith; by day my placid little joy bringer with a smile that melts me, yet by night an antisocial binge drinker with serious personal space issues. Whatever it is I am finding my ability to ‘keep calm and carry on’ doesn’t come quite as easily as it once did and there are days when life with two little people feels really rather testing. I can get irritable really quickly, I do the undignified thing of shouting about why ‘IN OUR HOUSE WE DON’T SHOUT’, I roll my eyes when somebody is walking too slow in front of me and I have things to do and I feel personally victimised almost to the point of harassment when the self serve checkout in Asda tells me that there is an ‘An unexpected item in the bagging area’. I don’t feel comfortable being quite this irritable despite the ‘season’ or the amount of times I’ve stumbled out of bed in the middle of the night; its not something I want to brush off or just accept as ‘part of the journey’. I want to live with grace and with peace.
I was recently reminded of something I had spoken of at Church-a message about choosing to live at peace; that nobody has the power or ability to steal the gift of peace given to us without us allowing them to do so. I still absolutely believe this but somewhere amongst the days and the nights blurring into one I must have forgotten.
But I do want to remember. I want to remember about the peace and grace I have been freely given when I am going about my everyday life. I don’t want it to just be a concept I read about or something I will get back to doing or being when my Children sleep better or I have more time to myself or I don’t have to play Hide and Seek 53 times a day with a little boy who really doesn’t get the rules. I want to remember about grace and peace amongst the ins and outs of everyday life, right in the middle of it all. I want to remember about grace and peace when somebody with no children in the car parks in the only free parent and child spot at the super market. **Side note…if I ever planned the layout of a supermarket car park, (unlikely I know) but if I did I would always put the Little house for the trollies (the official name eludes me) right next to the parent and child parking bays, that way you don’t have to navigate the dilemma of whether to Choice A load child/children/shopping into the car and dash to put your trolly away whilst staring over your shoulder at your car like a hawk to make sure nobody escapes and that the car remains stationary OR Choice B load the shopping in the car whilst opening up various snacks and rewards (that’s bribery to the uninitiated) to keep everyone happy and reasonably compliment whilst you wheel the trolly (inevitably the one with the wonky wheel) and the child/children to the ‘trolly house’ in order to enter into one of my top 5 activities to get your top lip sweating; namely getting everyone out the trolly, across the car park and back into the car (often to find that the car keys are in the boot somewhere under the frozen peas).
I want to offer grace and peace, I want to throw it around like confetti, I want it to be my first response when I go about my days; when I am trying to stop sweet Smith from screaming in the car and every single traffic light seems to turn to red upon my approach (you never quite appreciate how long traffic lights stay red for until you have a screaming child in the car. It feels like an eternity.) I want to respond with grace and peace when everyone’s needs take centre stage and I’ve almost forgotten what I need though recently I’ve not been overthinking it; a Curly Wurly and a Cuppa often does the job. I want to respond with grace and peace when I feel like it and when I don’t feel like it. I have such a lot to learn about grace and peace.
I so want my children to learn an attitude of grace and peace from their mummy, and I’m sure on some days they do, however today Hudson learnt the phrase ‘the flipping TV remote’ and other days he asks me why I got so cross with that other car or with the letter that came through the post (God bless HMRC) I’ve got such a long way to go.
But I do want to offer grace and peace, I want to offer them like Jesus did, with no exceptions, no agendas and no need for an audience or applause.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Romans 12:18 The Bible
So Dear Man in the Co-op, I start with you. I want to offer you grace and peace from my household to yours, because I was cross at you, angry at you and you made me feel humiliated. I wanted to turn around and tell you that there was a time that I wasn’t quite so flustered and I didn’t go out in my tracksuit bottoms with Paw Patrol stickers on the left leg (proudly bestowed upon me by Hudson). I wanted you to know that I too get frustrated when my three year old takes ages to ‘help’ put the shopping on the counter or when my three month old won’t stop crying; I get so frustrated but I’m trying to raise little humans the best I can. I began to write you a letter in my head; it started like this…
You didn’t know what my morning had been like when you stood behind me huffing and puffing and eye rolling whilst I rummaged around what feels like Mary Poppins’ bag to find my bank card. You didn’t know that we had been up since before 4am keeping a baby quiet so that our 3 year old could get some sleep when you were standing intimidatingly close to me and my little tribe. You didn’t know that somedays I can struggle to find a sense of identity or dignity in what I am doing and that I felt pathetic rather than strong when I turned to you red faced to apologise for holding up the queue because I couldn’t find my bank card. You didn’t know.
I was cross at you until I began to really think about grace and peace. I felt justified in angrily writing you a letter in my head until I began to think about grace and peace. I actually rather wanted you to have a bad day, until I thought about grace and peace. I was so caught up with what you didn’t know that I forgot about what I didn’t know. I.Didn’t.Know. I didn’t know why you were in such a rush or why you felt so frustrated that morning. I didn’t know why a Mum with two small children would trigger such irritation in you or if something in you was stirred up by seeing us. I don’t know what your journey has been, what you have loved and what you have lost. I don’t know what you are going home to, maybe it’s chaos or maybe it’s lonely silence, the point is I just don’t know. I don’t know if the inner critic in your head was particularly loud that morning and you needed to get up and out and achieving in order to silence it and the frustration of us slowing you down was too much for you to handle. But after some thought and reflection there is something I do know. I do know that you didn’t actually deserve any less grace than me in the Co-op queue that morning as I scrambled around for my bank card which was infact at home on the table (I put it there so I wouldn’t forget it…of course). You didn’t deserve any less grace than me when I was having to decide what items to keep and what items to put back whilst Hudson desperately wanted to eat his quavers ‘right now’ and Smith was screaming for milk. (Alas my Curly Wurly was sacrificed as a burnt offering on the alter of motherhood as it got returned to the shelf along with the dishwasher tablets and the Barney Bears as the loose change in the bottom of my bag just didn’t cover it.) but all the rummaging and crying and red faced apologies, they all irritated you and for that I don’t want to be cross (anymore) I want to offer you grace and peace.
Grace and peace because we don’t see the full picture; we absolutely just do not know what is going on in people’s ‘behind the scenes.’ Instead we see the highlight reel of social media with all its filters and editing, we see the masks that people choose to show us, we see the irritable Man in the queue or the impatient driver behind the wheel but we don’t see the whole picture. You saw a harassed Mum, a screaming baby and a demanding 3 year old, but that’s not the whole picture. I saw an irritable and impatient Man but that’s not the whole picture. God sees the whole picture and he tells us, he shows us to extend grace and peace. Dear Man in the Co-op, Grace and Peace to you because I know a God who offers it to me freely and without condition and I’d love you to get a glimpse of that too.
I want to put grace and peace into action in my everyday life, not because I’m smug and want to be nice and shiny and sweet but because I’m desperate for it myself. I want to let God’s grace change me and define me and shape the way I Interact with the World, from my children to the Man in the Co-op, even to the lady who does the voice over for the self service in Asda (maybe). I don’t want to use any season/stage/episode of my life no matter how testing it may be as an excuse for not being kind. I don’t want to get caught up in the World’s way of doing things, of hustling and bustling and eye rolling and shoving; of tutting and beeping and judging and criticising no matter how sleep deprived or harassed I might feel. I need God’s help, I need to remember the grace and peace extended to me this very day, right here and right now.
I want to always remember the grace shown to me; grace every time I feel like I’ve not made the grade or done a good enough job, grace every time I feel a bit too messy or too broken to even open my mouth or bring my contribution to the World, grace every time I wrestle with thoughts of finding motherhood both beautiful and boring, grace when the ‘Mum Guilt’ kicks in, grace when I know I could have read that extra bedtime story or listened a bit more intently. Grace and peace.
So grace and peace to the Man in the Co-op, grace and peace to myself (grace to navigate the emotions of having just eaten a box of chocolate fingers and peace about the fact I don’t fit in my pre baby jeans yet….probably, no, undoubtably because of the aforementioned chocolate fingers)
Grace and Peace to you and your household, grace and peace for whatever season you find yourself in. Grace and Peace over your anxious thoughts, over your insecurities, over your big questions and wonderings. Grace and peace to those of us navigating parenthood and all that it brings; bags of grace and peace to those desiring parenthood who are doing life with a mixture of hope and aching in your heart-grace and peace to you. Grace and peace to those who have lost or who feel lost and whose hearts are hurting. Grace and peace to you carrying around disappointment and are grieving for what could have been or the injustice of what should have been. Grace and peace to the broken, the messy, the questioning, the undeserving, to all of us.
Grace and Peace to you dear Man in the Co-op, and if you ever read this and want to make amends you could always buy me that Curly Wurly.