I was washing dishes this evening when I heard a loud BOOM on our sliding glass door. My seven-year-old daughter Sophia was playing in the backyard, and when I looked outside, I couldn’t see her anywhere. All I saw were pieces of rocks broken on the pavement.
My knee jerk reaction was anger. I could feel the rage bubbling up inside me, but instead of screaming at her, I took a deep breath and stepped outside to look for my daughter.
She was hiding underneath some bushes on the side of our house. I gently asked her to come out. She said that she was scared that she was going to be in trouble.After a minute or so, she finally crawled out from behind the bush. She stood at a distance from me, and I could tell that she was afraid, embarrassed, and worried about how I would respond.
I told her, “Sophia, you are more important to me than any thing in this world. Can you tell me what happened?”
Her eyes filled with tears, “It was an accident, mom. I wanted to see the inside of the rock, so I threw it on the ground, and a piece flew off and hit the door. I’m so sorry!”
“Okay, so what did you learn from this?”
“To throw rocks the other way so they won’t break the glass door,” she replied.
“I think that’s a great solution!”
She smiled a bit.
I told her, “Well, let’s see if the door is broken.” We got closer to look, and by the grace of God, the door was intact.
I told Sophia to pick up the broken pieces of the rock from the floor.“
Sweetie, it is much easier to pick up the broken pieces of a rock than the broken pieces of a relationship. Today, I saw that our relationship has been broken – not just this rock. I want you to know that if you are ever in trouble, it is ALWAYS safe to come to me for help. I’m not here to judge you or to punish you. I’m here to help you – no matter how bad things get. I want you to trust me enough to run TO me and not away from me when you are in trouble or when you make a mistake. Do you think we can work on that?”
“Of course, mom! I promise next time I’ll come to you instead of running away.” I reached out my arms, and she threw her arms around my neck.
It is very present for me that the way that I respond to my children now is preparing them for how they can anticipate I will respond to problems in the future. It’s clear to me that I have some more work to do in order to rebuild some of the trust that has been broken by the times that I have responded sinfully in my anger or frustration to her.
Today, it was a broken rock… but someday, it will be a broken heart. I pray that when that day comes, she will know that I am a safe place for her to run to – and never have to hide from.