I wasn’t crying over spilled milk, but oil. Smoked hickory grapeseed oil, to be exact. And though I knew it was silly to cry over, the tears welled up in a relentless wave before I could duck my face to hide them. Knees cracking, I bent over to sop up the mess of oil, glass, and crumbs from the pantry floor.
My husband’s voice stops me. “Don’t,” he said, his gentle voice a sharp crack in my already bruised heart. “I’ll do that.”
It was an accident. Not my fault. Our teenage babysitter and surrogate daughter had been trying to help, reaching to get the toaster out of the pantry to stop the baby from her jagged crying and our toddler’s incessant whining, when the bottle slipped and fell.
I take a deep breath, used to cleaning messes of PlayDoh and stray crayons, ancient raisins in kitchen corners, smeared handprints on glass — and then I realize that the oil has spread to a giant, 25-lb. bag of sugar I had just purchased with the intention of making more jam than one house could possibly use.
And suddenly, it feels like too much.
I’d had plans for that jar, you see. And I’d had plans for that sugar. And in my quest to be the perfect mom and the perfect wife, my dreams of perfection lay broken, splashed across the floor, seeping into the sweetness.
But knowing that my daughter-of-the-heart’s own heart is beautiful and fragile, I bite my lip, knowing that my words have the power to heal or to hinder. Careless words spoken in anger could signal so easily to her the abandonment she’s come to expect from the women in her life.
It’s not about me, this oil, this sugar. It’s about what they represent.
And I’m reminded of another time something valuable was poured out. Wasted, in the eyes of another. I’m remembering the time a sinful woman bent down, knees cracking, to pour tears and fragrant perfume over the feet of the Savior. How Jesus honored the daily gift of tears, the rare gift of perfume, equal and infinitely precious.
The sacrifice was in the action. The pouring out. And it was in the intention of the woman, reaching for Jesus. Seeking love and acceptance – and finding them.
Composed once more, I turned and smiled a bit shakily.
“It’s ok,” I said. Knowing that sometimes the biggest lessons in life aren’t learned in those moments where we aim for perfection, but in our mistakes. Knowing that it’s the mercy and grace of our actions that speak to a life well-lived, despite our imperfections.
“Turning to the woman, but speaking to Simon, [Jesus] said, “Do you see this woman? I came to your home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair. You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn’t quit kissing my feet. You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn’t it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.” Luke 7:44-47 (MSG)
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