Folks whose faces are wreathed with smiles bring out the grins in me.
My grandkids are pros at producing big-mouth smiles that can warm the cockles of even the coldest heart. Five live close to us. The other four are far, far away. It’s hard not to see them more frequently. Huck and Landry are in Austin, and I see their grins on Instagram. Sloane is now in Washington, D.C., and her mom shares pictures of her girl daily. Brooklyn is in Miami, and we had a chance to be with her a few days ago.
Her favorite thing in all the world is to smile.
Until the fun is gone. The diaper is full. The nap is forgotten. The food isn’t sitting very well. Too many people want to hold her.
Then the tickled toddler becomes the terrified toddler. Smiles disappear. Tears flow freely. Cries crescendo.
The grump takes the place of the grinner.
The flip is also my reality. When Brooklyn gets the grumps with me in close proximity, I’m the bringer of the bad. Inadequate for her current needs.
That’s what it feels like.
My expectation is that I should make her happy. Content. If I can’t do that, well, what good am I to her?
That’s not a sustainable response. No grandparent–no parent–can make their grandchild/child perfectly happy. All the time.
That lack on my part doesn’t make me a bad nana. Or mom. It means life is unpredictable. Uncontrollable.
But if I consistently disappoint Brooklyn–or any of my kids or other grandkids–I typically deal with my expectations to protect my fragile ego. Laughing it off. Acting like it’s no big deal. Building a little silo around my heart so it can’t be destroyed by me not being enough.
Justifying who I am, what I do.
This is the world I’ve crafted for myself. I’m responsible. For the success and happiness of all those I care for.
The more I think about the lies–that I’m not a good enough parent or grandparent, that I’m not all that good at my job, that nobody really knows me because if they did they wouldn’t like me–the more they sneak inside my soul and play over and over on the loudspeaker of my heart.
God doesn’t see me as the sum of my failures. He doesn’t discount me because I’m not the best at something. To Him, failure isn’t fatal.
Because He’s enough. He loves me enough. He has chosen me as His, and there isn’t anything better that I could hope to be.
Will I fail? Absolutely. At many things.
Does failure make me a rotten person? No. It reminds me of my broken humanity.
Maybe embracing failure, learning from it, and thanking God that I’m still well-loved by Him is a better use of my time.
Just thinking about that makes me grin.