Spills Schmills!

Do you know that sound of running water…coming from a room that should not have such a sound?

Like my living room.

My little one spilled his drink. As soon as I heard that sound, I knew what happened. And was instantly irritated at the mess waiting for me. I grunted and clenched my teeth as I sopped up the liquid from my wood shelf and the carpet, letting slip out a frustrated “Gosh, darnit!”

Now I know those words could have been worse, but the anger was still recognized by my son.

He sweetly said, “I’m sorry, Mama. I didn’t mean to spill.”

I was silent, trying not to say anything regretful. So he repeated himself. “I’m sorry, Mama. I didn’t mean to spill.”

And it hit me. Of course he didn’t mean to spill. They never mean to spill.

22 - spills

Spill is synonymous with accident. In fact, Mirriam-Webster defines spill as “to cause or allow (something) to fall, flow, or run over the edge of a container usually in an accidental way.” If it wasn’t accidental, it would be pouring. Luckily, that doesn’t happen in our house. 🙂

Why can’t I just react with, “That’s okay. We can clean it up.” Mistakes deserve instant forgiveness. After looking at his sweet face, I did answer him with, “It’s okay. I’m glad it was water.”

Now, get this. Later, I heard tears from the kitchen. Our older son had spilled his drink – a sticky juice all over the kitchen table.

Dad was upset, grumbling about slowing down, that he just told him to watch his glass, and I’m pretty sure I heard a “Gosh darnit, why did you spill?” in there. Maybe that’s where I get it… 🙂

And my sensitive, probably overtired, big boy got upset.

You know what I did? I got upset with my husband. “You can’t yell at him for spilling his drink!” I said. “He doesn’t do it on purpose – it’s an accident!”

I’m not proud. Here I was taking it out on my husband. My own guilt from just an hour earlier.

Now here’s the clincher. Things always come in threes.

I’ve been redoing a desk. I set out to stain the drawers. That very night, when I opened my can of gel stain (think of the consistency of pudding), I discovered the top layer turned to a hard thin shell (it will do that if it dries out too much). So I poked through and attempted to carefully dig it out.

Instead of breaking into pieces, it spurted out of the can. One glob on my white kitchen countertop, another on the cream-colored tile floor. Yes, that’s right. Dark mahogany-colored wood stain. Can you gasp with me?

I’m not sure I could have caused a worse spill. Well, maybe breaking a gallon-sized glass container into a zillion pieces – which I did about 3 weeks ago. See, everyone spills, drops, breaks things. God has a way of reminding us.

I was able to remove the stain. Thank goodness for one of my favorite products, Goo Gone. Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser still tops my list, though.

Spills can be cleaned up and forgotten. But anger and frustration have a way of leaving behind residue.

As I was silently and quickly cleaning up, I realized I didn’t want someone pointing out my mistake. Nor did I need anyone else’s words of frustration. I did not treat my children the way I would want to be treated. Normally, that golden rule is strong with me. But I needed the reminder. A reminder to forgive instantly.

My husband came to help without saying a word either. I think we both learned our lesson.

     Be kind and compassionate to one another,
forgiving each other,
just as in Christ, God forgave you.
                                       Ephesians 4:32

My prayer that night went something like this.

“Dear God, please help me care less about spills, broken things, and accidents. Remind me to look into my children’s eyes before reacting or opening my mouth. Help me to see the guilt and remorse in their sweet faces. Invite forgiveness and love from my lips so that guilt can be lifted from their shoulders. And leave no room in my heart for anger. Amen.”

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