It wasn’t until my senior year in college that I swore at someone. I had reached the end of my rope with my roommate and, in the midst of an escalated argument in French, I just couldn’t translate anymore and I ended up yelling at her. It was an awful moment, one in which I didn’t know what to do next. Fortunately, my brother was visiting and he quickly stepped in and suggested we go for a walk. I cried, my brother listened, and we came back to an empty apartment. A couple days later, Brad and I left for a week in Ireland and then after that, I left Paris for Nepal. Needless to say, my roommate and I have lost touch. I’m not even sure I said goodbye.

Now, beyond an annoying SUV driver or when venting to Frank, I’m still not much of a swearer. My parents raised us to think that “shoot” was a swear word and, after hearing Bea say it one day, I can kind of see why. These days, Bea mimics everything we say. Some are positives that I want to stick: Have patience! Thank you! I’m sorry. Some, thankfully, aren’t repeated enough for her to remember. It’s been a good reminder that we model everything for her. Some days, I do a pretty good job and am confident in the reflection of my own actions. Other days…. Well, hopefully some reflections and behaviors will fade quickly. The types of humans we are will determine the type of human she will be.

It’s not just my words, either. Actions, facial expressions, mannerisms – Bea imitates them all as she figures out how to interact with the world. From patting and shhhing Bitty Baby to whisking eggs in her little kitchen, Bea repeats our days during playtime. Before bed and naps, she retells events that have happened recently. Very little escapes this perceptive girl, and I am amazed at the details she remembers from her days.

Modeling quiet reading time
Modeling quiet reading time

Frank and I want to be intentional about raising a daughter who hears kind words and sees generous actions. I believe that, beyond Sunday school and the Jesus Storybook Bible, the best way to present the idea of Jesus and grace is by modeling our own beliefs. As she interacts with us doing our daily routines, we try to explain why we do what we do. Listening to Frank in the kitchen while Bea acts as his sous-chef is like listening to a cooking show. Even if I write a blog or respond to email while she’s around, I try to stop and explain what I’m doing. She loves to sit with me and absorb it all. I look forward to the day when we can explain more about Kiva and Food for the Hungry as we model giving to others.

Often I think about, as a Christian, what kind of reflection I am of Jesus’ message. As I read the Gospels, messages of love and redemption fill the pages. Yes, there is the odd example of Jesus losing his temper and overturning tables, but overwhelmingly, the Gospels show a man of generous love and grace. Sometimes it can be easy to justify my “righteous anger” toward injustice and point to the one time Jesus overturned tables. But, he more often stopped and listened to others. He modeled radical grace.

As I look at my interactions with Bea, I hope she takes away my moments of love and grace and not the times I lose my temper. I know I’ll fail and she’ll see me acting less than gracious, but I would be mortified if those were the only actions she absorbed. I wonder if it’s similar with Jesus. I imagine he hopes I reflect love and grace instead of anger. How would he feel if I clung to the examples of judgement and never mirrored those of love?

Linked with SheLoves Magazine’s month of Mirror.