It was a busy day at the grocery store. It was our weekly family outing, and we were ready to be home. While my youngest daughter sat in the cart and helped bag the groceries with Dad, my oldest and I sat and rested nearby on a bench. I could tell she was feeling bothered by something. I pressed her for a reason.
She frustratingly brushed her hair out of her face, and said, “I just feel like I’m a bad sister.”
I withheld a smile. What a sweet heart. My oldest daughter cares a lot about her relationships and getting along well with everybody. Sometimes, though, this means she feels too guilty too much.
I still do not know what happened between the two girls to make her feel this way. I didn’t need to know, because there was a more significant problem going on here.
My mind worked quickly through compassion and empathy. Oh, child, how I can relate to this. One bad move, one bad decision, and I’m a bad person. A bad employee. A bad mother. A bad friend. A bad minister. A bad teacher. Oh, how I can relate.
It’s one of the funny things about having kids. The confidence and love I can show them as I help them navigate their problems seems to elude me in my own struggles. Does God talk to me…through my own words?
“Honey, you are not a bad sister at all. Look, maybe you feel bad about something, but that doesn’t make you bad. It just means you had one bad moment. Think about a forest, like the beautiful forests we saw on the Tennessee mountains. They were so big and beautiful, weren’t they? Huge trees, growing so tall, stretching to the sky.
“Then you walk into that forest, surrounded by beautiful nature, and you find an old, gnarled, bent tree. It’s hollow and dead and ugly. Does this bad tree make the whole forest bad?”
My daughter shook her head no.
“So it’s the same with us. We have parts of us that are bad-getting angry too easily or being too selfish at times-and we have bad moments. We make bad choices. But just like the forest with that one bad tree, your one bad moment does not make you a bad sister. We are still altogether beautiful and growing, even through our bad moments.”
Most of us need this little reminder. A gentle touch to the soul that we are doing alright, even when we don’t feel alright. A gentle reminder to let the guilt or the bitterness go, and enjoy the beauty of the life of the forest. A reminder to give grace when it is the hardest: to ourselves.
Jennifer is a homeschool mom to two young girls with a baby on the way. She lives in the country with her high school sweet heart, a duck, a chicken, and a handful of beehives. But she prefers to stay in-doors with chocolate, her Bible, and a blank canvas. You can read more of her stuff at www.jennifercopassblog.wordpress.com.