“Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Red, brown, yellow, black and white, they’re all precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world. Jesus cares for the little children, all the children of the world. Red, brown, yellow, black and white, they’re all precious in His sight. Jesus cares for the little children of the world. Jesus came to save the children, all the children of the world. Red, brown, yellow, black and white, they’re all precious in His sight. Jesus came to save the children of the world.”
These are words to a familiar song to our family as it is often heard at Ann Leland’s bedtime. Comically enough, as I was looking up the lyrics of this song before writing this post, I found quite a few deviations in my version above. The more common lyrics I found went through “Jesus died for the little children” and then “Jesus rose for the little children.” Apparently, I need to volunteer for Children’s Choir sooner than later.
At any rate, over the holidays, I was standing in my parents’ bedroom, “rocking” Ann Leland to sleep while singing this song. I don’t know if it was being in my childhood home with my baby in my arms, laying my child to sleep in the crib that held me as an infant, or the nostalgia of the season itself, but I found myself tearing up as I came to the song’s conclusion. My dad was in bed behind me, unknowing of my emotion, and in that moment, my heart imploded with gratitude for this Earthly father (and mother) who had pointed me, through their examples and parenting, to the Father who loves, cares, and came to save the little children of the world.
In that moment between my father and my child, I was so grateful that God loved me so immensely that He gave me Jamie and Frieda McKenzie as parents and a home where I was constantly being told about Jesus and His love for me. In that moment, I was so grateful that my parents loved me so immensely that they acknowledged their imperfections and transformed that into teaching their children about the need for forgiveness and for a Savior.
For hear me clearly, my parents were not perfect; as imperfect, fallen humans, they made mistakes. I have only been a mother for nine months, and I have quickly learned that your children expose areas of your heart where you are imperfect and incapable and in need of redemption and grace. However, my parents took their imperfections and used it as a vessel and opportunity to teach their children about their need, as imperfect sinners, for their perfect Creator, their Father who loves, cares, and came to save the little children of the world.
As a new parent, from a freshly perspective, I often try to be the perfect mom. I strive to help her grow physically and mentally and achieve her developmental milestones. I strive to keep her healthy, well fed, and rested. I strive to give her my undivided attention and be the playful mom that makes her giggle and smile. I try to always have a coordinating bow with the smocked dress (being more facetious here). Yet, while all of these things are important and come from good intentions, I am not, and will never be, the perfect parent. Yet, I hope that’s one of the primary lessons and facts that Ann Leland, and any future children I may have, so deeply learn from me.
If I cannot find a time capsule and prevent her from growing up, I hope that Ann Leland grows to have her own children and that she knows and proclaims, “I had an imperfect mom.” (Let’s get serious, she’ll probably proclaim the truth, “My mom was Hot Mess Express.”) I hope she is so acutely aware of my shortcomings, mistakes and flaws, for then she can truly see the depths of forgiveness and grace and our desperate need for a Savior. I hope she is so acutely aware of my shortcomings, mistakes and flaws, and that I, as a parent, can use these as opportunities and vessels to teach and point her to her perfect Creator. I hope that she is so acutely aware of my shortcomings, mistakes and flaws and from this grows to understand, in my weakness, He is strong.
As we start this new year, I am so grateful for parents who loved me and daily pointed me to Him. I am so grateful for God setting eternity in their hearts and how they, through His grace, made Jesus such a natural part of our childhood. Because of this, I am so grateful for the opportunity to now tell my own children about the sin and selfishness of my Hot Mess Express heart and the perfect Father who loves, cares, and came to save it.