She looks at me with those large brown eyes. I try to decipher her expression. There’s a hint of sadness, doubt and even fear. She averts her gaze, trying to deny her act, as if she’s trying to take it back.
Usually she looks to me with such warmth, such expectance of love and pride. But now she’s not sure. She fears anger. She fears rejection. She fears disappointment. But most of all she fears that this small act will create a separation between us–an end to the loving relationship that she has come to know so well.
What did she do? One of the many little everyday misdeeds that children do. Some, out of mischievousness; some, out of curiosity and wonder, a desire to experiment and understand her world. Some are complete accidents, never intended to do anything wrong; and some are willful, because right now she really doesn’t want to listen to me or anyone else.
She’s unsure what to do now. Will denying erase it or will that upset me more? Will I prove her wrong or will she evade facing her misdeed?
And so we sit down to talk. We talk about mistakes. We talk about how everyone makes mistakes. We talk about owning up to our mistakes and moving forward. We talk about how perfection is an unrealistic and impossible goal. We talk about how she is so much more than the sum total of her choices.
And then we talk about our relationship. How my love for her is not dependent on her actions. How her mistakes don’t erase or erode my love and how her talents don’t increase it. How the love is a constant. Unconditional. How even when I’m upset or angry, though my love may be hidden, it is just as strong. And, perhaps most importantly, how facing mistakes together helps us both grow closer.
Slowly she is beginning to understand. Slowly the expression of fear and doubt in her big brown eyes has begun to dissipate. Slowly she regains her confidence in herself, in our connection. Slowly her cheer returns.
Now we’re able to even laugh together about past misdeeds. Like the time when she stuffed tissues down the sink drain, out of total curiosity and was horrified to see it create a flood. How hard it was for her at the time to admit that mistake. But now she is able to see it within a context of growth and maturation.
And as I sit with her and talk about mistakes, mine and hers, I think of You, looking compassionately into our eyes–eyes that at times are so full of fear, doubt and uncertainty. Eyes that portray our cheerlessness, our lack of confidence in moving forward, and our feelings of loneliness and abandonment. Eyes that convey such hopeless, negative feelings that brings us to deny, escape, reject and spiral downward-even further away from You.
And I think of you teaching us about the essence of Your love towards us.
And teaching us to go beyond our fear of our mistakes.