Micah and I were in a public restroom a couple weeks ago. I was trying to help him wash his hands, which proved to be difficult due to the height of the sink -- we use a stool at home -- and the faucet was one of those push-on varieties, the kind that you have to press every couple of seconds. I had to keep telling him that, no, we weren't done yet: "I still see bubbles. Let's get all the bubbles off."
Today is our younger daughter Jacque’s birthday. She’s eleven, though well into her teen years. She, not her older sister Lindsay, seems to want to grow up fast, though her idea of growing up doesn’t involve maturity and becoming more responsible. In fact, she’s trying to earn her job at home back, which she lost because she took too many personal days—the laziness bug typical of too many American kids.
We instituted a policy with our girls, though we’re not always consistent with it, that whoever hits back will receive a harsher punishment than the original offender. She who retaliates will get a longer timeout. The words, “But she hit me first,” were all the confession we needed. (In this system I guess you’re better off striking first.) This is an attempt to help them see that our hearts, darkened as they are with sin, are bent towards revenge.
By far the least favorite description of my worship leading came about eight years ago. My critic didn’t intend to compare me to this musician; he just couldn’t think of anyone as mellow—Barry Manilow. Though it was arguable that my style resembled “Mandy” or “I Write the Songs,” it was that the worship songs I preferred tended to be the slower, more contemplative ones. In a set of six songs, at least three, maybe four, leaned toward slow or moderately slow.
Artists can be so hard on themselves. I believe this accompanies artistic talent, pushing us to reach for higher heights in art. And as Christian artists, we should want, like court musicians, to play our best for our great King and Master Artist. If not for perfectionism would any of the great artists (musicians, painters, writers, poets, dancers, actors, photographers, sculptors, etc.) have produced the masterpieces we treasure today? If not for perfectionism, wouldn’t art be mediocre? Wouldn’t all singing be a karaoke performance?
You’re probably familiar with the parable of the Good Samaritan. Separately, three people came upon a man who’d been mugged. One was a priest, another a Levite, and the last a Samaritan, who would have been hated by the Jews. Typically, we walk away from the story thinking we should be more compassionate toward others, especially those we normally wouldn’t like. But, as there usually is, there’s more to the story.
Sometimes after bath time we allow Micah to go diaperless. He enjoys this freedom, the cool air caressing his baby booty and producing a fresh buoyancy. Without the constriction of a bulky diaper, he runs around aimlessly, not caring where he’s going as much as how long he can go for. At some point childlike innocence regresses into shame, like Adam and Eve when they discovered their nakedness. Consequently, many of us search our entire lives for the best fig leaves to cover ourselves, all the while growing in our self-consciousness. But worshiping Jesus consists of becoming less self-conscious and more aware of our Savior.
I've found myself lately just staring at him, enraptured, with an inerasable smile on my face. He's begun walking. He'd been taking a few unguided steps lately, but just yesterday he really started going, ambling the expanse of our living room. I watch him like I'd watch a trapeze artist, with the sense that eventually he'll fall but wondering how far his momentum will take him.
"I'm starving!" the girls cry in unison. Such hyperbole Lindsay and Jacque employ when their bellies ache to be filled with food. For some reason, their exclamations are always strongest on Sunday afternoons after church. So I quiz them: "Did you eat breakfast? Did you eat dinner yesterday? The day before?"
I've caught myself staring at Jacque this past week, contemplating how much more grown up she's appearing and how much more she's resembling Cindy. I've been mesmerized by her chocolate eyes and thinking soon a boy about her age will find himself lost in those same eyes. I'm not sure how I feel about this enlightenment, though hopefully because of our close relationship she's been developing standards set by me her father.