A friend of mine already had a little girl, just old enough to begin potty training, when her son was born. Her boy was always hungry, and it meant her daughter had to learn to share mom quite a bit. While feeding her newborn one day, her daughter piped up “Bee?” (code for grapes). She told her she would get some when baby was done. “Bee?” She repeated calmly she would get the grapes when baby was full. Silence followed. Then came the words “Peepee come!” My friend dropped the bottle, set down the baby, and rushed her girl to the potty. Finally alone, her daughter looked at her intently and repeated, “Bee?”
She hadn’t needed the potty at all.
My friend always finishes this story with a dramatic “And I realized – this kid is SMARTER than me!”
My friend wasn’t blind to the fact that her daughter had lied to manipulate the situation to gain something she wanted. She recognized this was something her girl would have to grapple with and acted accordingly, doing everything she could to foster in her girl a love for baby brother and a joy in sharing. But the memory she treasured was not her daughter’s struggle with selfishness or lying – it was her girl’s intelligence, and her amazing ability to make connections and accurately assess a situation! With the loving gaze of a mother, she saw the good and beautiful in her child, the piece that was part of her daughter’s truest self. The true self my friend wanted her baby girl to blossom into.
This is how God looks at us.
Like an observant mother, he sees clearly our faults, failings, and selfish tendencies. But he doesn’t write us off as lost causes, because he sees so much more than our shortcomings! He calls us to conversion, providing us opportunities to nourish a part of us that he never, ever loses sight of – the beautiful and brilliant core of our best and truest self. He rejoices in this! And in gifting us the grace to keep turning more and more toward him, he makes more and more room for that true self in us to open up and bloom.
It’s important for us to see the faults in our children, so that we can help them grow. But alongside that, we are called to see deeper – to spot the beautiful gift of their truest self. With God, we call them to gentle conversion, and nurture the amazing true self in them… a true self that moms have a unique ability to see.
And moms, the same goes for you! Don’t be afraid when you butt up against your own faults as a person, or as a mother. You are not a failure. You are not a lost cause. God sees you with the same tender love you have for your children, and more! Take a moment today to go over the last few days in your heart… maybe even the last few months. Are there things you aren’t proud of? Are there outcomes you regret? Find them, and tell them honestly to God in your heart, or write them down and pray with your paper. Take a moment to look at yourself the way God looks at you… What does he see when he looks at his beloved daughter? What is at the core of that truest self of yours, that he wants to nurture in you?
He will gently call you to conversion. He will give you the grace you need for it. And he will nurture your truest self into full bloom. You’re in his loving gaze: truly seen, truly known, and truly loved. And that’s right where you need to be.
Jesus Master, Way, Truth and Life,
form yourself in me,
that I may see with your eyes,
smile with your smile,
and love with your heart.
Mary, our Mother, Teacher, and Queen,
pray for us.