Monday, April 14, 2014

Throne of Grace

There was this time in my life, in 5th grade, when I was going through a rough patch. I remember bringing home some pretty bad grades. I was on the cusp of failing in several subjects and so my parents decided that I needed some real motivation. I had wanted a puppy for so long. So that is what they offered me - a real live puppy. No more battery powered toys that were cheap substitutes to the real breathing, walking, pooping kind. I was ecstatic! Of course, I would work hard for a puppy. The bar was set real low for me (only straight C's) so that I could achieve my goal and possibly find inspiration to continue to do well for the rest of the year. So I gave it my all and at the end of the quarter my grades were assessed. I got a few D's that quarter and I felt crushed that I wouldn't be getting my puppy.  I had missed the mark by a lot.

My parents were fairly unconventional when it came to Asian parenting. They showed me unfettered love in the form of hugs and kisses and "I love you"s. Whenever it was time for grades, they never "expected" an A. They just wanted my best. Often the question was, "Did you try your best?" It would be more offensive to them that I brought home an All-Star report card without any effort than a C earned with all my heart. Also, there was not one other Korean kid I knew that would be getting a puppy for bringing home straight C's. Who rewards their kid for mediocrity? 

My parents did. And it wasn't because they thought it was awesome that I was subpar. It was prompted by their love for me despite my averageness. I didn't have to be perfect to garner their love. 

There are some distinct moments where I am able to pinpoint God's grace in my life. This was one of them. My parents got me that puppy and they did it with so much joy. "Esther, we know you tried your best and we know that you didn't reach the goal we set out for you. But, we love you and we want you to know that we are proud of you," they said. With that, they took me to the pet store (this was still in the 90's) and they bought me a really expensive Cockerspaniel/Poodle that I named Sherry and loved with all my heart. This dog was special to me because my parents gave me something I truly did not deserve.

My life is filled with so many moments of mediocrity, and none more so than in my journey as a mother. I can recall many of these. There was that time I let Ava's feet outgrow her shoes and she told me not to feel bad because the shoes still fit if she just wore them barefoot. Or the time when I fed her something that caused her to anaphylax. Or the time Leukemia cells were collecting in her blood and her joints and I ignorantly glanced over the signs.

Ava will be a better mom than me one day. I'm not just assuming this because I have actual evidence of it. I pulled this example from a facebook post from last year.

Post from August 30, 2013:

Today during bedtime, Gwen was throwing such a stink fit I left her in the hallway to work it out herself. Ava felt it was time to intervene.

A: Mama, go get Gwen.
Me: NO, she's annoying. She needs to stop crying. (I'm such an awesome mom and feel so proud of myself sometimes.)
A: C'mon, mom. Be responsible. You're the mom. Go get your child and help her to stop crying.
Me: ...fine...(slinking away to collect Gwen)

But she won't be deterred from thinking that I'm outstanding, no matter how many examples of unremarkable mothering she's seen. "Mama, I love you, " she tells me every night. "You're the best." She obviously knows I'm not perfect but she chooses to celebrate me even in my mediocrity because she loves me. 

My girls are God's gifts of grace. I couldn't have earned them with all the excellence of a lifetime. No, they were simply given to me by a God who loves me even knowing I would miss the mark many times. 

Ava and Gwen give me grace too. Every time their chubby hands look for my cheeks in the middle of the night, every kiss they plant on my face, every wide smile they shine my way when I come home from work, every single one of their love filled actions defy what I really deserve. They deeply impress God's grace on my life. 

But, I feel the heavy weight of responsibility when they look at me with so much confidence. I can see it in their eyes. They expect me to take away all the evil in the world. They want me to restore order to the chaos. They think I'm the hero. 

Like yesterday when Ava suddenly wanted to talk about death.

Ava: Mama, I wish no one had to die. I wish Adam and Eve never ate that apple even though it looked like the juiciest thing EVER! 
Me: What made you think these things?
Ava: It's just that I'm scared about death. I don't want to you to be separated from me. But your love would reach me all the way from heaven, right?
Me: Yes, Ava. (relieved that she was talking about my death)
Ava: And that's not going to happen for a long time. Right, Mama?

And she looked at me with her smiling eyes totally trusting that I got this death thing under control. She depends on me. Mediocre me. 

Oh God, I feel so powerless. I can't save the day. I can barely cook a meal. 

For as long as we both have breath, I will continue to teach her that You are the one in whom she can put all of her confidence because You are the perfect one- the only one who won't disappoint. You lavish us with your grace and we find that our fears are driven away by your perfect love.

"Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16


Anonymous said...

Ava stole my heart the first time I read your blog. I promised to keep her in my prayers since that day. being able to relate as some of my family members have dealt with similar illness's... From young teen to an older aunt... Ester you share and give us your heart in these blogs. I don't know how we cab thank you for sharing your heart. I have taken away life lessons! God bless your family and bless your mother and father for raising a wonderful daughter and mother. You are stronger than you realize !!!!!!

Anonymous said...

you are an inspiration, and so is ava. praying, praying, praying <3

Joo Park said...

Ava makes me have tears...she is so beautiful...

borabora said...

Thank you for your kind words. We are upheld by the love and prayers we have received. Thank you for your life giving words!

borabora said...

Thank you for your prayers. We are indebted to everyone for showing us faith in the face of opposition. xoxo

borabora said...

Joo, thank you for sharing your story in an earlier post. I am so happy to hear that your child beat ALL! It is such an encouragement!