Last week was the hardest week I’ve had since I’ve been back off maternity leave. The Squid was sick on Sunday and Monday, and in an early display of generosity, he’d passed the bug onto me by Tuesday. We were over the worst of it by Wednesday, but we both spent the week feeling a little grumpier than usual, and there were a few moments of quiet (and not so quiet) desperation as I tried to wrangle a fussy baby and maintain some level of productivity, all while wanting nothing more than to crawl under a blanket and sleep.
Then on Saturday, I had to go to a Baptist Leadership training day. We spent the morning thinking about spirituality and how it affects and is affected by our ministry, and towards the end we were led through the Examen, which regular readers and Revivers may already know is a way of praying I have a particular fondness for. The person leading the Examen suggested that we may be surprised by what came out of it, and so I pushed my thoughts a little further to see if there was a revelation in store for me.
It turns out there was. As I reflected on the week, I realised that although I felt guilty about having got frustrated with the Squid when he wouldn’t nap or when he screamed at me for having the audacity to leave him to go to the toilet, I felt more guilty about the fact that he didn’t hold my frustration against me. Of course snapping ‘can’t you just give me five minutes peace?’ at him didn’t help matters, but he was very quickly as happy and affectionate as ever, and it felt like cheating that he should still love me, even when I didn’t feel I’d earned that love.
Wrestling with that realisation, I started to reflect on what my sense of guilt says about my attitude to grace, which after all is love undeserved and unconditional. I have always known that God loves me in spite of all my flaws and mistakes, but it has never provoked the same sense of complete unworthiness and overwhelming gratitude that a smile from the Squid on a difficult day does. I think it should, and so I need to spend some time allowing myself to feel the full weight of grace, in order to be made completely weightless by it.
I’ve said before that I learn most about God through those around me, and at only fourth months old, the Squid has already begun to teach me a valuable lesson. I suspect this post is only a beginning…