Ok. Let me back up. My charming husband convinced me that buying a rat, yes a rat, would be a great addition to our family. Immediately I said no, but his begging was too cute to resist. He had a positive experience with a pet rat (still grosses me out to say 'pet rat,' no offense towards current rat owners), and he wanted the kids to experience the same. And, to his defense and to the defense of all pet rat owners, everyone who has ever owned one has shared with me that they are, in fact, fun pets to own (I'm still doing research, though).
So off to the pet store we went, and if you could've seen my husband's grin as he sat in the passenger seat holding the box containing our new pet, you also would've thought this wasn't such a bad idea. He was so excited to surprise the kids when they got home from school, it was pretty cute.
The kids came home to their surprise, immediately fell in love and named the rodent, I mean, family pet, Ellie. My daughter even drew a pretty little name tag to place onto its cage. I spent the next couple hours staring at the cage in my son's room while Googling information about this new pet. Every website I went to was raving about these "clean, smart and lovable" pets, as well as the ease of training these critters. All the videos I watched made me smile as rats did tricks and snuggled onto the laps their owners. I was starting to warm up to this faux Minnie Mouse.
So I started bringing her treats like oats and grapes I'd cut up for her small little mouth. I was going into my son's room several times a day so she would get used to our interaction. I was going to make friends with this thing. And on day 4 of ownership, that all changed.
I went to her cage after waking up my son for school and I saw that she was sitting on top of her cute pink igloo house watching me as I moved. So I said good morning to her in my sweet "I kinda like you" voice and opened her cage to offer her some oats...from my hand. Because, ya know, at this point of me bringing her sweets and talking to her everyday, we should be best friends by now. All of a sudden, she leapt from the top of that stupid igloo shelter, took a hold of my thumb and wouldn't release it until I flicked my wrist and she flung off my finger. Screaming as she did this, my son rushes to my aid, my daughter races into his room to see what happened, and as I slammed the door of the cage, with tears in my eyes and blood starting to pour out of my thumb, I yelled (not simply said, but yelled) a lovely "F you" to the rat. Not a figurative or metaphoric "F you," the actual words flew off my tongue.
I turned around to head towards my bathroom to wash off the now dripping blood from my hands, and that was when I noticed the wide eyes and open mouths of my kids as they tried to process what they just heard from their mother's mouth. I ran straight to my bathroom, in tears, and hollered for my daughter to bring a bandaid to me. I'm sure out of fear of their now seemingly demonic mother, they were willing to do anything I asked at that moment.
Has something like that ever happened to you? You've either said something or done something that was not only completely out of character, but also completely wrong from what you've been teaching your kids? Please tell me I'm not the only one!
So what do you do when that happens?
Own up to it
Yep. I'm a grown woman. I own a house. I have a job. I'm in my mid 30's and I have two kids and a husband. And the thing I needed to do was humble out and apologize to my kids. I needed to apologize to my 11 year old and my 9 year old. It doesn't matter that I'm a grown up. It doesn't matter that I'm years ahead of them in life experience. It doesn't matter. They witnessed me doing something that I tell them is wrong and I needed to own up to it.
I asked them to come into my room and I apologized for what I said. And I didn't make excuses for it. I didn't justify it. Why? Because it was unacceptable. It was totally inappropriate, no matter how angry or hurt I was. I think they were still in shock because they didn't say much other than to nod their head in acknowledgment of my apology. But later that evening, my son approached me and said, "mama, thank you for saying you're sorry, I forgive you." Ahhhh, sweet forgiveness!
I'm guilty of this in more areas than a one-time foul mouthed exclamation. And I'm not always so quick to recognize it and then apologize for it. My husband has witnessed some pretty nasty behavior from me that didn't involve R rated language. He has seen fits of rage, attitude, disrespect, loss of self control, jealousy, selfishness, envy, and the like. And I have justified every behavior. "Well, it's because you did this," or "if you wouldn't have done that," or "I've had a rough day," or "you wouldn't understand what I'm going through." Society tells us, especially women, that we not only can, but should be doing just that! Society tells us that we don't need to apologize for our behavior. In fact, society calls it strength if you do exactly that: justify your behavior.
This is what society would've done with my rat situation:
"You tell that rat! It shouldn't have done that to you! It hurt you! Hurt it back! You don't deserve that! Don't feel bad! Let that rodent have it and don't back down!"
Now, let's replace that with husband, frenemy, neighbor, boss, coworker, teacher, family member:
"You tell him! He shouldn't have done that to you! He hurt you! Get him back! You don't deserve that! Don't feel bad! Let him have it and don't back down!"
How many times have you been told that? How many times have you told yourself that? Take your time thinking about it...I'll be over here counting the times I've heard it and said it to myself.
With the rat situation it was easy for me to see my sin, well, it was easy for me to hear it. I knew it before I even finished saying it. I knew I needed to own up to it and correct it. But the other times, my pride blocks my vision. I can't see my selfishness, my jealousy, my disrespect or my fits of rage (ok, sometimes I can see that one) because my pride acts as a blinder.
Without stating the obvious, why was it so easy for me to acknowledge my sin with that rat? Because it was my kids. I was pretty confident I would get their forgiveness. It was easy for me to humble out because my sin wasn't directed towards them. They're children, they love me, it's safe for me to be humble.
But my husband? My boss? My neighbor? My family member? My coworker? I'm not promised their forgiveness. I'm not promised their understanding. I'm not promised the safety zone for my vulnerability. So what do I do instead? I let my pride continue to hide it and sometimes even continue to build on it.
No matter what the situation, own it. You may not always get the forgiveness you are hoping to receive (I've been down that path, also. That's another story for another blog entry), but you need to own up to your sin...because ultimately, it was your choice. I could've chosen to say something different to that rat. I could've chosen to just grumble and not use any words. Instead, well, you know what I did.
We will never be perfect. We're not supposed to be perfect. But we are definitely expected to aim for it.
We have people all around us who are watching us, observing us and seeing if we are "true Christians." What would've happened had I ignored my potty mouth (yes, potty mouth)? What would they have thought had I not acknowledged and apologized for my sin? They may not know what the word hypocrite means according to Merriam-Webster, but they would've known that mommy just did something she tells them not to do. And she didn't care that she did it. Hmmm....not exactly what I want them to observe as I walk with God.
I want my children, and my husband, and my coworkers, and my neighbors, and my boss, and everyone around me to see that I will make mistakes. I will stumble and fall.
But I will own up to it. I will acknowledge it. I will ask forgiveness. I will repent.
Oh what a lesson for me to learn so early in the morning.
My husband took that rodent back to the pet store...only to bring home two different ones. Yes. Two new ones. He and the kids named them Lucy and Ethel. I'm going to give it another try. Pray for my quick tongue because the last thing I want is God saying, "Jenn, you got some 'splainin to do..."