This one comes to us from Sarah Denley Herrington.

Recently, I went to see A Wrinkle In Time. Fantasy is a genre I’m decidedly not drawn to, in literature and in media, and it’s been approximately five years since I’ve been to a theater. For the record, a lot of things have changed—our cinema now has recliners as seats, and to see something during prime time hours costs $12. But this one seemed worth it.

I was not disappointed, and the whole thing was delightful, but the climactic scene where the protagonist, Meg, speaks beautiful words over her brother when he is his meanest, ugliest, most wretched self did something powerful inside of me. The whole time, I was thinking about my friend Sarah’s words on Imputation Parenting. The following Sunday at church, a lady in the pew in front of us complimented my children’s behavior after my six-year-old yelled across three little friends, “Momma, how much longer?” I was so grateful for the grace she gave us.

I have long loved the practice of finding good words, but I’m only now really understanding a fraction of their power. We are not the light, but we come as witnesses to it.

I Googled and tried to find Meg’s exact words from the movie and could not, but I found her words from the novel online and then discovered a worn and weathered copy in our own attic. Frankly, I think the book version may be even better:

I love you. Charles Wallace, you are my darling and my dear and the light of my life and the treasure of my heart. I love you. I love you. I love you.

And I come to pieces again.

I ask myself, “Why can’t I be more like Meg Murry—consistently speaking these sorts of good words over my children who in every sense of the words are the lights of my life and the treasures of my heart?” I analyze and justify and mom-shame myself and tear up a bit and search for the answer, wondering why twenty-foot-tall Oprah isn’t here to whisper the answers of the universe in my ear and why I can’t be Meg Murry.

Oh, that’s right. Because she’s a work of fiction. Somehow that always gets lost on me.

I think about how, in my very best moments, I do remind them of these truths. How loved and valuable they are and how those things aren’t based on what they do or don’t do. I think about how I pray that, when they are grown and rocking their own babies and literal tears fill their eyes from exhaustion and from not being able to contain or understand or articulate the love they are feeling, those will be the words they will remember from me.

But I also think about an article I read once about how this praying for them to remember you at your best (apparently that’s a common thing for mommas, who knew?) is all well and good, but the more important practice may well be the chance the mess-ups provide. So when I yell for the third time before lunch, when I sigh so deeply because she’s nearly nine and I expect so much, or when I grasp his hand tightly and pull him to timeout—those are the moments I get to point them to my Savior. I get to remind them that I, like the Apostle Paul, am chief among (tiny) sinners. That my bad behavior is every bit as ugly and pungent as theirs.

In that same pivotal scene in the movie, Meg not only reminds Charles Wallace of her love, but she enumerates her many weaknesses. Maybe she celebrates them a little too much for my tastes, but that too serves as a reminder that I too can boast in my deep weakness as a mother because I know I am made whole in the Father’s deep love.

I so often wonder how parents find so many ways to talk to their children about their faith. It seems daunting to me. I see God in so many mundane details of ordinary life, but it’s hard to find ways to have deep spiritual conversations with them. But this? This reminding them they are loved and treasured unconditionally and conversely, that I myself often fall short and fail them but there is no condemnation? Gosh, that’s something I can put on repeat from now until they leave our house.

So I wake to face another day—determined to gently whisper words of truth and love and belonging in the soft tone I imagine Ma Ingalls would have spoken to little Laura. And by mid-morning a gallon of milk has been turned upside down and someone is antagonizing the baby and a bed is stripped of newly washed sheets for some sort of project nobody asked permission to attempt and the mattress lies mockingly on the floor. And I have yelled, sighed, and drug people to timeout.

And hopefully repented and pointed them towards the Cross.