Have you ever had one of those moments where something happens that changes everything?
Over a month ago, our family experienced one of those moments. It was a moment that will never leave my mind.
It happened on a normal evening, close to the kid's bathtime. The usual was happening-Nick was sitting on the living room chair giving the five minute warning to bathtime, I was sitting on the couch most likely on the laptop or with a book, Caleb was quietly playing, and Abby was refusing to admit it was time to go upstairs and get ready for bed.
I should take this moment to explain something about the wonderful daughter God has blessed us with. She is stubborn and always wants to win. I have no idea where she gets it from (perhaps her parents who are the same way, but we really try not to be like that in front of her). One example of this behavior is her need to beat everyone up the stairs, including her little brother, who at this point was still mastering the skill of climbing the stairs without falling.
So, here we were, Nick finally saying it is bathtime and time to head up stairs. Caleb immediately starts climbing, faithfully taking one step at a time. Abby immediately starts running around the living room shouting, "I'm not tired! I'm not tired!" Nick decides to use the line that will forever be in our minds, "Look, Caleb is beating you up the stairs!"
Looking back, we should have seen it coming.
As I was sitting on the couch, preparing myself to get up and start cleaning up the toy covered living room, I heard the pounding of her little feet up those stairs and could almost feel the moment about to happen. But, there was nothing I could do to stop it. It was one of those moments where you want to move, but just cannot move quick enough.
I think I saw Nick leap from his chair before I actually realized what terrifying event was happening. Our daughter, upon realizing her little brother was on the top step, raced to the top and yelled, "No, I win" and pushed him out of the way. He fell down all thirteen steps to land on the living room floor.
My stomach still hurts when I think about it.
I did not see him fall, which is probably something God knew I could not handle. Nick saw it, but still cannot believe how it played out. Somehow, our son flew down those stairs and remained unharmed. He did some back-flips and managed to touch the steps from time to time, but basically something kept him in the air so that he did not end up with any major bruises. Even the books I had piled on one of the bottom steps (to take upstairs the next time I went up) actually helped slow him down so that he landed safely on the carpet on his side.
While we fussed over him and he clung tightly in my arms, screaming, little Abby took off for her room and slammed the door. She knew what was coming next. All I could think was if this had happened differently, how life changing this would be for her. If he had landed on his neck and could never walk again or worse...she would immediately be changed for the rest of her life.
Instead, after a miraculous landing, the crying over after ten minutes, a laughing Caleb in the tub, a punishment to Abby going quickly-it's over. And even though I still think about it every time Caleb climbs the stairs (which he has completely mastered now), I am reminded it is over.
I was telling this story within that week to a family member, not realizing that Abby was listening. When I was done, Abby spoke up in this small voice, saying, "Mommy, it's over. I said I was sorry so I'm forgiven. Let's move on."
Once again, God uses this little creature to humble me and bring me back to grace. I often think I can forgive others more easily than I can forgive myself. Then I see this little girl (who now walks carefully behind Caleb up the stairs, holding an arm behind him) understanding forgiveness and moving on. May I learn from her example.