Today’s advent guest post is by Leeana Tankersley the author of Breathing Room and Found Art. Leeana and her husband Steve, an active duty Navy SEAL, are currently stationed in San Diego, CA., with their three children, Luke, Lane, and Elle.
The other day I was driving Luke and Lane, my five-year-old twins, to preschool with their baby sister Elle, age two, along for the ride. About 11 seconds after we pulled out of the driveway, Lane announced she wanted a doll to take with her to school. No doll in the car. I determined we were already on our way and she would have to play with the dolls in her classroom.
Commence Lane. Losing. Her. Mind. Bashing the seat in front of her with both heals. High-pitched screams that would make you think one of her arms spontaneously detached.
I ripped the steering wheel over and stopped the car on the steepest hill between our house and their school. I threw my door open, and flew out, preparing to give Lane some godly wisdom about her choices. The incline of the street brought my door screaming back and the corner caught me right in the back of the calf. Like a gun shot. Mom down.
Bent over in the middle of the street, trying to catch my breath, sweating, spewing unsavory sentiments, I felt practically rabid.
I limped around and opened her door, breathless, groaning.
By this point, Lane was perfectly calm and looking at me like how I imagine she will look at me when she’s 15. (Geesh, Mom, you are so lame.)
In fact, all three of my kids looked at me as if I was the one who had lost my mind. Even Elle had popped her fingers out of her mouth and was staring at me aghast.
And then Luke says what everyone is already thinking: “Mommy, you’re kind of scary.”
I closed their door, limped back to my side of the car and waited by my door for a minute. Trying to breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
When we pulled into the preschool parking lot, I was still breathless with anger and pain and wishing it were all prettier. I was still nursing the angst, protecting it like a precious. I felt deeply entitled to my self-pity.
One salvific sentence arrives. I know it is the way out, and yet I begrudge its arrival. Saint Benedict is whispering in my ear, “Always we begin again.”
Once more with emphasis and deep compassion, “Leeana, always we begin again.”
Man, I hate letting go of my righteous indignation. I hate the audacity of grace, sometimes. I’m out for judgment, retribution, reckoning.
Saint Benedict invites me out of the corner I’ve backed myself into. He invites me to a much more spacious place. Breathe and begin again. In our parenting, in our marriages, with our bodies, in our recovery, in our thankfulness, in our prayers, in our attempts to cook a decent meal. Breathe and begin again.
I walk Luke and Lane into their class with Elle on my hip, and when we get inside, I put Elle down and whisper in Lane’s ear, trying to let God ungrit my teeth: “I’m sorry I got crazy. I’m sorry we had a hard start this morning. I love you.”
“OK, mom,” she says, her green eyes looking right into my green eyes. And she turns and walks into her class.
I see, as I look at her, the scared child inside of me that is punching my feet into the back of the headrest, all triggered and tantrum-y. The hardest moment, as I put my face directly in front of Lane’s precious face and feel my guilt, is then turning toward myself with the same compassion. “You lost your mind. You went to crazy town. You screamed. Your son thought you were scary. You wanted it to all to be so much easier and it terrifies you when it’s not. It’s OK. You’re OK. Let’s try and begin again.”
As we celebrate Advent, we commemorate hope. Hope in the midst of our longing. Hope in the midst of our heartbrokenness. Hope that we are not doomed in our scary, pained humanity.
This is such incredibly good news for someone like me.
During advent we celebrate the truth that we have been offered a gracious way out of our corners. [Click to tweet!] And everyday, we have the choice to accept that way out.
The other incredibly good news is that we can start today: in the most mundane moments and the most magical moments of this holiday season, we can begin again. And in doing so we allow our humanity and the hope of heaven to rub shoulders. We allow our hearts to remain in a posture of possibility. We allow Emmanuel to come to us . . . over and over and over.
Always, we begin again.
Today’s advent guest post is by Leeana Tankersley the author of Breathing Room and Found Art. Leeana and her husband Steve, an active duty Navy SEAL, are currently stationed in San Diego, CA., with their three children, Luke, Lane, and Elle. The other day I was driving Luke and Lane, my five-year-old twins, to preschool […]