When I found out I was pregnant with our fourth child, I thought I was going to lose my mind because of the behavior of our third child, who was 18 months old and often referred to as the Hurricane. Every toddler empties out cubbies full of toys and colors on the walls.
However, the Hurricane consistently took it a step further.
Writing on herself with a Sharpie on Easter Vigil, shoving 18 hair barrettes down the drain and flooding the bathroom, falling into the neighbor’s fish pond, opening up a bag of flour and spreading it all over the kitchen floor (note: do not try to vacuum flour unless you want to spread it through the whole house)…the list goes on.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
I finally learned to affirm her in the most unexpected times.” Over time, I realized that I was only seeing and anticipating the negative, therefore only expressing negativity in response. I needed to learn to affirm her, even in the moments I was about to scream. I sometimes had to bite my tongue from not saying what I was really thinking: You are so brave (a lion would run from you), you are strong (willed), your smile is full of joy (and mouth full of fire), I love the way you hug your daddy (even though you choke him out), thank you for teaching me patience (and hold back my curse words). These affirmations began to not only change her attitude, but mine as well. I began to appreciate her idiocrasies, slowly but surely.
I sometimes wonder if God feels the same way about US.
We test, challenge and offend Him, mess up again and again and disappoint Him. Yet He affirms us and tells us that we are good enough, that He loves us, to always come to Him and that He forgives us. What an example of unconditional love He has shown us through grace and forgiveness.
Lord, help me to affirm those who challenge me the most. Build in my heart a tower of grace that always points back to You.
During Lent, we may fail in our penances.
We may fall. We may see others stumble. But, we are walking in grace. We are loved. Let us, as St. Paul teaches, encourage one another.