The ultimate parenting reset.
It wasn't about grace. Not at first at least.
No, the "grace button" started out as the "reset button." I would ask my daughter to reset her heart to help her release the hurt, anger, and frustration after we argued, or after she'd been in trouble. I'd hit the reset button too.
My friend Sarah suggested it when I'd explained to her that I avoided disciplining my daughter, Bree, sometimes because it would spiral into worse behavior. It would start with something small at breakfast, like forcing her to eat her fruit, then an argument over her clothes (because why can't you wear a sequin dress to preschool?), before I knew it, the one conflict over her eating her grapes had become an all out war over getting her out the door and to school! She was grizzly and uncooperative, and I would become a harried and hurried version of myself--commanding and cajoling the kids to the car. I'd climb behind the steering wheel and exhale the shame and frustration. We were ready to start our day, but I felt exhausted and defeated.
After one of those kinds of mornings, I sat in a circle of support, surrounded by the fellow moms that made up our weekly book club. Frazzled and defeated I shared my latest struggles with the group. Sarah lay her suggestion on the table along with the scones and coffee others brought to share, knowing I was hungry for more than just caffeine and carbs.
She explained,"I hit the reset button with my kids to remind them that I forgive them. It helps them to forgive themselves too. We push a button on our heart--and my kids get to decide the noise it makes. After we push the button we both get a fresh start."
That afternoon I taught Bree about the reset button. As she pushed her heart she sandwiched her tongue between her lips and made a strawberry noise, and then her mouth opened in a laugh that made me laugh too. The reset button nudged its way into our everyday lives after that, amidst brushing our teeth in the morning, reading books before bed, and the arguments that fell unavoidably in between. While it wasn't a miracle, it felt like it was a way to get Bree and I back on track when we had let anger and frustration provoke and distract us from doing the right thing. I was grateful for this new tool to help us love each other better.
Then, driving in the car one morning I heard Bree hitting her heart again and again, singing, "Grace button, grace button, God gives us the grace button."
"Bree what is the grace button?" I asked, then teasingly added, "Like grace we say before dinner?"
But her face was intent and she enunciated each word to emphasize the importance,
"No mom! It is so much more! Its all about God. It's all about God's glory, and thanking God for everything!"
After that, Bree seemed to have a new understanding about God that I couldn't pinpoint. After that, she started calling the "reset button," the "grace button" instead.
I found another opportunity to ask her about it one night before bed, as we were looking at Jago's illustration of Jesus in Sally Lloyd Wright's "Jesus Storybook Bible."
"This is how Jesus looks," She said simply.
"How do you know how Jesus looks?" I asked.
But I knew the answer. A few months before, my daughter had started sharing dreams she was having about God. I knew she had many dreams she didn't even tell me about, but there were rare moments that she would open up and tell me about the incredible things she saw in her sleep. Things that seemed far too complex for a four-year-old to dream or even comprehend.
"Well I saw Jesus again, and the Father."
"You had a dream?"
"Mhmmm," she hummed lazily.
"Is that where the grace button comes from?" I asked the question trying to sound casual, but everything in me was poised to absorb her every word.
"Yeah. I was in my bed, and I pushed the grace button, and Jesus picked me up to His room upstairs, and He held me. But He didn't use his arms, He lifted me with his powers." Her arms gestured and her face grew animated.
"Did Jesus teach you about grace?"
"Well yes, He held me, and I just knew.”
I felt every hair on my body standing to listen. A moment passed in silence as I tried to take it all in. Then I gestured for her to crawl on my lap. Her words about grace fell around us like a tender snow, as I held her close and breathed her in, and understood.
Without anymore explanation, we began to call the "reset button," the "grace button." It didn't need more explanation or discussion. We remembered that grace isn't something we have to tease or nudge, push or shape into something we understand, rather it appears in the form of Jesus in our hearts, and the glue that holds us together when nothing else seems to make sense.