I set the bowls of spaghetti down and invite them to sit down on their little chairs - the chairs with last month’s glitter glue dried on the backs and this morning’s oatmeal still stuck in the slats.
“Let’s use our manners.” I remind.
“And let’s say thank you to Jesus.”
“Gank you Jesus!
“Amen!” they echo.
I stand towering awkwardly above them with my bowl at my chin, startled at how hungry I feel.
“Mom, sit by us,” DeCelie says.
I kneel down on the linoleum and set my bowl at their table, shoving another bite in my mouth.
“Mmmmmm,” I hum and a chorus of echoing, “Mmmm’s” resound.
Charis studies the way her big sister twirls the fork and tries to do the same but her noodles keep falling short, she can't catch a bite. Amused, I watch in silence as she finally lowers her fork. Her eyes dash about looking for new options before she dives her hand into the bowl, lifts a mass of pasta, and drives her hand into her face. The noodles whiplash and sauce splashes everywhere.
I giggle trying to say, “Let’s use our manners” but say instead, “Why don’t we all use our hands?”
The girls pause and stare at me, noting the rare spontaneity of their mother. DeCelie erupts with enthusiasm and Charis shouts in agreement, “Yea!!!”
So I put away my fork, and together we all dig in - snorting with mouths stuffed.
We lick the bowls down empty and poke fun at our sauce-stain-goatees.
We clear the table and wash our hands.
Then together we decide: while manners are important...sometimes it’s more important to get our hands messy to learn a different manner altogether...
I want to choose this every day...to lower myself to more linoleum, experience life at their level, and get messy for them.
I want to be more like our Savior…
Towering above in the Heavens, He didn’t wait for an invitation to come and meet us low. He put away the old covenant manner - His hands were the only true way. Pierced hands. With them He shoved death into a grave and showed who was Life that third risen day. He lowered Himself to raise us with Him to Heaven’s heights.
Father, let them see You, inside of me.
I don’t want my manners - I want Yours.
May I have the same manner, towards my children - the same manner as Christ…
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God
something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name
that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue
acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.”
- Philippians 2:5-11