And buy lots of pens. And document organizers. Maybe some extra paper clips and magnets.
There seems to be permission slips for everything. Which I totally understand and appreciate...don't get me wrong. But some days this imperfect momma can't keep up. And for such days, I have a pre-written e-mail that I can pull out and with just a few clicks customize it for the lost permission slip at hand.
Dear Mr./Mrs. So and So,
Due to being extremely and ridiculously scatterbrained (I blame my offspring, one of which you have the delight of spending many hours with) I do not know if I signed the most recent permission slip, let alone put it back in the folder to be placed in the backpack. Please don't blame my child. I'm a dork. They are normal. Could you please let me know if my child is current in their permission slip quota for the week by responding to this e-mail? If you tell them to give me a message, I won't believe them. They always tell me I haven't signed them...even when I have.
So and So's Mom
Works like a charm, I tell ya.
These permission slips are a good thing. It assures communication. It allows parents to have a choice about what their child is participating in and who is in charge of them. In case of emergency, everyone is clear on what they are allowed to do or not do.
If they are worded right, that is.
I can remember a time when I was directing a camp for teens and we were working on permission slips for an off campus event. The slips that had been used in years past looked decent enough. And it served the purpose for the most part. Communication. Choices. Directions. But if anyone had contested the permission slip...if it was scrutinized in a court of law...it wouldn't have held up.
Technically, they meant nothing. Even if they were signed and returned and not taking up space on the counter. They didn't pass.
I've been having to work on re-wording some of my own permission slips lately. Some of the ones that I've turned in years ago, months ago, weeks ago. Slips that I've worked tirelessly on, but yet somehow aren't holding up now. Much like me, the permission slips that I've written for myself need refining and clarifying.
I've had this one book on my shelf for awhile. I decided it was next in line to be read as I was grabbing my things to sit at a volleyball tournament all day. Now, the irony in starting to read a book called "Unglued" while sitting in the midst of some rather, um, shall we say interesting people from the opposing team was about as ironic as it can get. Seriously. I was laughing. And not just at them...because the temptation to become all sorts of unglued on my insides because of their behavior was just as ironic. Trust me.
This book has been a permission slip for me of sorts. Permission to accept the true definition of imperfection in my life. To accept that being imperfect doesn't mean being crazy. It doesn't mean that I'm destined to be a mess the rest of my life. It doesn't mean that I'm forever going to be the mom that loses her cool over shoes not put away or shouts at the washing machine because it's not whirring fast enough. It doesn't mean I'm a failure, a loser, a "has been" or non-player in this game of life.
Nope. It just means I'm not perfect. And I'm not the only one. And just because I've weathered trauma and upheaval and pain in my life doesn't mean I'm not allowed to feel things on the flip side of it all.
I've grown used to people saying to me "I don't know how you do it, Beck." Sometimes it's in reference to having four kids close in age and other times it's in reference to the junk I've had to go through all the while keeping my chin above water. I know they mean it as a compliment, but it makes me want to cry. I want to tell them that most days I'm not doing it. I want to tell them that even though they think I'm brave and strong, I'm actually frail and weak. Sure, I've survived some pretty incredible attempts at satan destroying me, and I've managed to not kick any of my kids out of the house but I'm not out of the woods. I'm failing. I'm remembering hurts. I'm giving in to old mindsets. I'm impatient with my kids, my husband and my alarm clock. My closet is messy. I haven't dusted for awhile. I care too much about what people think of me and are saying about me. I become irritated at my children's bickering. And sometimes I feed my kids tacos from Taco Bell for dinner rather than forcing them to eat the brown rice, chicken, herb soup I made and pat myself on the back because at least there's veggies in those dang tacos.
Unglued? Nailed it.
I think God would love it if we could simply admit and surrender our imperfections. Deny it and we become proud. Dwell on it and we lose hope. Use it to further our entitlement issues and we become bitter. Out of touch. Miserable to be and to be around.
Like anything, moderation in this "accepting our imperfections" thing is necessary. And it's a fine line. One that can actually damage our lives and the lives around us. Give ourselves permission to recognize that progress is gradual, setbacks are normal and we are not alone? Now we're getting somewhere.
Give yourself permission to be human. It's important.
And if you think you already have, but just can't shake this feeling that there are things resurfacing that you need to deal with again, it's OK. Refine that permission slip. Make it something that will stand up to the greatest of scrutiny...whether normal day to day challenges or drastically altering life events.
Then give God permission to do what He needs to do. We are never done growing. There is always more to do. But rather than dreading it, be excited about it! It just means that there are greater things on the horizon that God wants to prepare you for. Easier said than done, I know too well. But as my heart is yet again begging to understand that concept as much as my brain is, it's resonating. Even more than the first billion times I have had to make this heart to brain connection.
With each additional connection moment, the permission slips become more thorough. More steadfast. More productive. One slip at a time.
"Imperfect changes are slow steps of progress wrapped in grace...imperfect progress."
Lysa Terkeurst, Unglued