She Teaches Me

My daugher got it. She was only two, but she understood what that Sunday meal was all about.

A few weeks beforehand, my husband and I decided we would have a Palm Sunday meal at our house, hoping to fill the house with family, friends, ham, and an egg hunt on the lawn. I envisioned guest walking up our sidewalk beside colorful eggs strewn about the yard, tempting the children to grab an early piece of chocolate before the egg hunt had even begun. The smell of baked ham would greet the guest as they crossed our threshold, and laughter would be heard in the living room, as relatives met for the first time since Christmas.  

We got the word out, and the days began to go by quickly as Palm Sunday approached. A few days before the gathering, I was in Wal-mart; baking pans shone at the end of the aisles, accompanied by cans of pineapple and brown sugar. I soon realized I had never cooked a ham.

I then walked into my house that afternoon and looked at my large dining room table, the one saved for special events such as what I was planning. A thin layer of white film was covering it, the windows that showcased and filtered in light to the table were smudged from little hands and dog kisses. The floor beneath the table showed leftover crumbs from the last gathering we had produced and the dog had failed to cleanup for me. Continuing my journey to other areas of my house, my critical eye created a list that got longer and longer. The living room was too dark, two light bulbs needed to be bought. My travels took me to my bedroom where the  faint smell of dirty diapers met my nose and toddler toys were haphazardly thrown around the floor. In the laundry room, wet towels had been left in the washer, creating another scent that was a cross between mold and Tide. Then, I noticed the dirty ring of who knows what around the toilet; a toilet that was reserved for guest only, yet my daughter had taken over during our navigation of potty-training.   

In an effort to calm my mind of the to-do-list forming, I swept more crumbs and toys off the couch and sat down to distract myself with an app that predicts the weather forecast. Sunday’s prediction? Rain. Lots of Rain. I imagined heart-broken children gazing through my smudged and dirty windows at a soggy chocolate treat in the middle of a plastic drowned egg, that was swimming in a mud-puddle. This was the first year my young one would actually know how to hunt eggs; yet the experience I wanted for her appeared to be washing away.   

I began Pinning ham recipes, running to the store, sweating in the bathroom, watching the weather on my phone, and crying in relief when my grandmother volunteered to arrive early and dust the entire house. I was sweeping, mopping, washing, grooming, and adding to the to-do-list.

The morning of Palm Sunday, I was short with my husband, had no patience with my daughter, and envied the way my grandmother was always calm and collected. At church, I videoed the children as they waved palm branches down the aisle and sang praises to the Lord. I captured the smile on my little one’s face as she stood before the congregation and God, waving that branch to the Most High with a cheerful heart. Instead of taking my daughter’s lead I was worrying about my to-do-list and what still needed to be checked off. My poor attitude and short fuse were evident to those in my household, but I would place a fake smile on when the guest arrived. Arrived they did, and my daughter greeted each and every person.  

She wanted Grandma Bernice to sit by her. She thanked Memaw for the candy. Uncle Grant and Brittany got big hugs. Granna was the icing on the cake. Pops, G, and Mimi got squeals of delight upon their entrance. She pondered over those who were unable to make it, not forgetting them. And everyone else; the aunts, uncles, and cousins, were the cherry on top. I could not help but notice that it seemed no one was looking for dust or crumbs on the floor. The children came prepared with raincoats and jackets and laughed in the rain as eggs were gathered and sweets divided and eaten. The adults watched them through the windows, smiles on their faces as they reminisced about their own childhood. No one seemed to be looking for smudges on the panes, just at the delight of the children.

As they occasion was coming to an end, I notice my daughter’s eyes reflected a joy no cooked ham, dust-free house, rainy day, or clean bathroom could ever give her.

I lost sight of what the dinner was all about; my daughter reminded me. She knows to enjoy and savor the love that abounds in her life. I tend to let other things get in the way of my vision, clouding what God really wants me to focus on.

I am convinced God blesses us with our children as a gift to teach and reveal things to us that He wants us to understand. Only God could devise such a beautiful, sometimes trying, and incredible relationship as that I am experiencing with my daughter. A relationship that allows me to see more clearly to the love and blessings provided around me.

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