“Mama?” The sound of her daughter’s voice at that moment made her flinch. Robert came back in just then and caught his daughter up in a towel.
“Time to get ready for bed, Munchkin. Grandma’s gonna be here soon.”
His announcement drew squeals of childish delight from their children. How was it he could come home from working all day long and manage to create order out of chaos in less than ten minutes? She grabbed a clean towel and began to mop up the mess her children had made on the bathroom floor.
“Leave it,” her husband said. Still she worked away, unable to leave any job undone. A large, gentle hand covered her own. “Leave it,” he repeated.
Only his quiet presence could have pulled her away. The doorbell rang and Robert’s mother entered. One look and she had Candace wrapped in a tight hug. “Go to your prayer meeting, Candy. It’ll help.”
Candace shuddered at the idea. Prayer meeting. Sure she snapped at the kids more than usual lately, but it didn’t mean she needed to be forcibly removed for an evening of pretending that prayer really helped.
Robert kissed the kids goodnight. Candace knew she should do the same, but the thought of being manhandled by tiny hands didn’t hold any attractions right then.
Maybe leaving wasn’t such a bad idea.
In no time they reached their destination and found themselves safely tucked into a sofa, the staccato chatter of fellow church members grinding on Candace’s last nerve. She was grateful when Sister Jones stood to direct the meeting. It was far easier to tune out just one voice.
She tried to think of something relaxing. Instead her mind insisted on reliving every awful part of her day. Over and over the events replayed, until the torturous truth hit.
Today she had been a bad mother.
In every instance she chose the wrong path of action. Instead of words of understanding she had yelled. Instead of soothing away tears she locked herself in the bathroom. Every time something bad happened she’d let her weak, mortal self take over.
Perhaps the most appalling part was the sight of her daughter’s face, her sweet voice calling out, “Mama.” Candace had shuddered. That’s not what a mom is supposed to do.
Her body sagged under the guilt. Lord, what have I done? At that point the teacher’s words penetrated her shame soaked thoughts.
“I often think of what Mary and Joseph must have gone through as they raised the Son of God. Do you suppose He was perfect even as a child? The pressure to bring Him up in righteousness, to teach Him even as a young child to choose His Father’s way must have been overwhelming at times. Did they ever lose their patience? I’m certain Mary must have felt so inadequate. Perhaps she even felt like a bad mother at times.”
Candace could hardly believe her ears as Sister Jones continued.
“It is so easy to forget we are all children of God. The Father understands our weaknesses, and is always willing to forgive if we repent. Fortunately He’s also blessed us with children who are just as willing to forgive. I’m certain Jesus forgave his mother and Joseph when they fell short of perfection.”
Sister Jones asked Robert to give the closing prayer. As he stood Candace wondered if Kayla really could forgive her. Could she even forgive herself?
“Bless every one of us, Father, to understand that while Jesus was perfect, we are still striving to become so. We know we will make mistakes. It is the human part of us. Let us also know we can make a change with Thy help.”
With His help. Candace had lost track of bringing God into the equation. Her discouragement lifted just enough to allow hope.
Later that night she crept into her daughter’s room, caressing the tiny face.
“Mama,” said Kayla, opening sleepy eyes.
“Sorry I got the floor so wet.”
Candace’s heart hurt. Kayla must have been worrying about it all evening. “Sweetie, I need to say sorry. I shouldn’t have gotten so mad. Can you forgive me?”
“’Course, Mama. It was just a bad day. Tomorrow’ll be better.”
Candace kissed her child, tucked her back in, and crept into bed. As she kissed her husband goodnight she whispered, “I’d like to go back to Prayer Meeting next week.”
Robert kissed her back. “Good.”
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