Isaiah had other plans. I'm not sure who let the cat out of the bag and informed my child that his mean 'ole mom was depriving him of the quintessential fall experience, but he suddenly got it in his head that we just had to go pick a pumpkin and carve it to look like a mean Jack o Lantern face and we had to do it right now and it had to be the biggest pumpkin EVER!!!
The best I could do was a stop at Pick n Save after church to buy a pumpkin from out front. I did agree to this whole carving nonsense since I figured I could print out a template from online and actually make it pretty cool. Plus, Grandma had given him a pumpkin carving kit that the kid was just dying to use.
We settled on a Batman pattern that would look awesome on display at his upcoming superhero birthday party and set to work. The cleaning out of the pumpkin guts was a good time for all, I must admit. Isaiah was on a mission to scoop out all the guts and get his pumpkin perfect for carving! We read instructions, watched a YouTube video, and taped our stencil on the pumpkin.
Then I spent the next 30 minutes using a thumb tack to outline where our cuts would go and Isaiah lost interest. I guess he didn't realize that pumpkin carving was such a tedious process. It wasn't until after I had all the cuts outlines in push-pin marks that I realized this pattern would be more difficult than I thought.
Me: "Ok Isaiah. Mommy is going to start by cutting out these little parts and then it will be your turn to carve along Batman's head."
Isaiah: "Yeah! I'm going to carve Batman's head! I'm so excited!"
..........exactly 3 minutes later.........
Isaiah: "Mommy, I don't want to carve anymore. You just do it."
You'd think I would have been happy. After all, getting my kid to relinquish control to me seems to be my greatest desire on any other given day. In this case, I was actually kind of hoping he would want to contribute to our masterpiece, but he was just too afraid of messing it up that he just quit.
I can relate to that struggle. How often have I held back from even trying something because I was so terrified of screwing up? If I don't even start, it's impossible for me to fail, you see. Nobody can call me a failure or be disappointed if I never set the expectation out there.
But once you've started carving, you have to keep going. Now, people are watching......ready to judge.
Sometimes no matter how hard we try, no matter how precise we try to be, no matter how focused we are, we just fall short. God did not give me the gift of pumpkin carving skills and before I knew it, my best grown-up efforts had produced this disaster:
All it took was a couple cuts gone wrong and the super-cool pumpkin my son had his heart set on was no more and all he was left with was this disaster. His heart fell and his bottom lip popped out in a pout the second he heard me mutter, "Son of a Biscuit" under my breath. I told him I was sorry, that I made a mistake. He suggested I use tape to fix it, but I struggled to hide my frustration as I explained that tape wouldn't fix his precious pumpkin. Isaiah took a moment to think it over and then looked me square in the face.
"It's ok, Mommy. Grown-ups screw up sometimes too."
I gathered my boy in my arms and thanked him for his grace. And I needed it terribly. As much as I wasn't really into the whole "pumpkin thing" this year, he was jacked up about it. This pumpkin meant something to him. It was important and I blew it.
But he forgave me. Instead of throwing a fit and demanding I march my butt right back to the Pick n Save for a new pumpkin so I could start all over thankyousomuch, he instead extended me kindness and compassion. He accepted my pumpkin, flawed and disfigured as it was, as something precious. We put that pumpkin by our front door, set a flame-less candle inside it, and replaced the top. He couldn't stop talking to his neighbor buddy about our "Blind Batman Pumpkin."
When all was said and done, it didn't matter as much to him that the pumpkin was perfect. What he cared about was the experience, the process, the effort. He enjoyed digging around in the pumpkin guts with me and separating out the seeds. He relished the time and attention I put into choosing the perfect design specifically for him and the fact that I really tried hard to give him something special. I think he knows that I really did put my whole heart into that pumpkin. And he loves me even though it didn't turn out the way either of us had hoped.
Through grace, I was saved from my failure. When viewed through the lens of a perfect love, my pumpkin was no longer a disaster, but a masterpiece to be proudly displayed by the front door. Though flawed in its construction, that pumpkin can proudly let its light shine for the whole world as if to say, "I was fearfully and wonderfully made."
The pursuit of perfection dies when faced with perfect grace.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the wisdom you showed me today through the heart of my child. So often, I get so caught up on results and performing up to the expectations I place on myself that I forget that I do not have the power to do it on my own. I end up biting off more than I can chew or sometimes I never even try at all out of fear I will fail. Thank you for reminding me today that you see me through the lens of Jesus. Help me to remember that when you look at me, you don't see my failures and imperfections. You no longer see the places where I have messed up, where I have fallen short, where I have disappointed. You see your precious masterpiece. Flawed as I am, help me to let my light shine proudly and to be bold for you, Lord. Help me trust you enough to follow where you would lead me and to take on what you call me to do and not be so afraid of failure that I don't even try. Through you, all things are possible and your grace leaves me nothing to fear.