“You’re SO MEAN!”
“You totally slammed the door on me! Then you laughed!!”
“Well, I admit I laughed. But I didn’t slam the door on you.”
“You SO did!”
“I SO DID NOT!”
“OHHHH!!! … Get OUT OF THE WAY!!”
So goes the lovely edifying conversation of two siblings as they race from the house and fight each other to get in the car. It’s capped by a mother’s chiding.
“Can you two just be nice to each other?!!”
“Hellooooo…. Can you two be nice to each other?!”
“THAT’S IT!! You’d better answer me! CAN YOU TWO BE NICE?!!!”
Sister grumping from the far back seat: “I’ll be nice if Slow Walker is nice to me.”
Slow Walker sasses: “I’ll be nice if Teen Take-Out is nice to me.”
[What’s up with that?! “I’ll be nice if _______(fill in the blank)”]
Mom from the driver’s seat: “Well that’s great. I’m glad Jesus didn’t approach it that way. I’ll forgive you if … well… there’s nothing to fill in that blank.” I continued, “He does it despite the fact we’ve got NOTHING to give in return. That’s why you treat each other nicely. Not because they deserve it. You do it for the One who gave YOU everything. He never said do it because you’re owed. He said ‘Love as I loved you.'”
Silence… (hopefully because they’re letting that monumental motivation sink in).
Then my nemesis appeared as if on cue.
“That’s exciting. I’m about to run out of gas.”
“Did that light thing come on… again?” asks Teen Take-Out my shotgun passenger.
“Ahhh… yes.” My miles display announces I have 14 to go before I’m out. There’s no way I’m getting back home without a little visit to the gas station. “And I’m in my pajamas, of course.”
“You should pay more attention to that, Mom.” TTO informs me.
I drop the kids off at one school, then head to the next, searching for a discreet filling station where my pajamas might be hidden – away from the morning traffic throngs. As I turn onto the street for TTO’s school, I notice a 7-11 I hadn’t seen before. The lot was empty. Maybe I could get in and out without so much as a stare.
I drop off the kid and zoom to get my gas. Pulling up at the furthest pump, I reach for my wallet. My wallet that I apparently had left at home. It’s hard to believe how consistently flakey I am. So I dig around the car and come up with four dollars… in change. I have no choice but to run across the lot and into the store to hand the cashier my cash.
His raised eye-brow and once over dispelled any hope I had of going incognito. If I was a teenager, no one would think twice about my pajamas. They wear them everywhere. I could have lived without his little judgmental sneer.
I ran back to my car through the now full lot and pumped my gallon of gas.
As I climbed back into the car and headed home, I thought about that empty tank and my kids – their conditional love conversation. It’s hard to love the way we should – that selfless kind of love – if our tank is empty. What a nice reminder for me to not only be filled each day, but to help them take a daily trip to the filling station. Reading to them, encouraging them to spend personal time in Scripture and prayer, and teaching when the opportunities present themselves. Yeah, that mom-job… teaching rather than task handling.
My empty gas tank was a nice reminder of my spiritual tank. I could have have considered it without the pajama embarrassment, though.
Thanks for walking the road with me.
Hmmm… Hiding in plain view. Right next to another, much deserved, cup of coffee.