The radio was playing on some random station, and I wasn't paying a lot of attention to it. I was zoning out really. But it was there, in the background, and Riley must have tuned in enough to hear some of the lyrics and disapprove, because when I glanced over at him, he was looking straight ahead with his fingers plugging up his ears.
I thought for a second about what to say. I sighed, maybe a little too deeply. Like I said, it had been a long day. But, I turned off the noise and looked into the face of my nine year old son. "I take it you didn't like that song?"
"It wasn't godly." He replied simply and without any arrogance, in the kindest tone possible. But for whatever reason, I got defensive. Maybe it is because I have always thought children have no business correcting adults, let alone their parents.
I didn't say anything for a moment, letting blood run softer, calmer. Trying to become teachable. For sometimes the Spirit speaks through little boys. Then, "Riley, do you think that I am godly?"
"Yes." He smiles up at me and answers without any hesitation.
"Do you think you are godly?" His head drops for a fraction of a second, then he glances out the window. "I am trying to be."
Oh Riley. So am I. So am I.
If this little boy is anything like me, he will be struggling the rest of his earthly existence not to measure himself by how good he can be. And I sent up a silent prayer, asking for wisdom to impart words of grace. Because all is grace.
"Riley, why are you a Smith?"
"Because it is my last name."
"Right. Why is it your last name?"
"Because my dad is a Smith, and I am his son."
At this point he is looking at me, mind rushing ahead, with an expression of mingled amusement and confusion. Where was I going with this??
"Well, what if I told you every Smith in our family joins the army at eighteen years old, but then you decided not to... would you stop being a Smith?"
"Right. You are a Smith because you are ours. Our blood runs in your veins. And nothing you can ever, ever do will change that. Ever. You know how everyone always goes on and on, telling you that you look just like your mama?"
He nods slowly, thinking.
"Well, as a Christian, when you do the things you know are right, you look like your Father. And that is a beautiful thing. But Riley, listen to me."
He looks up. Makes eye contact, serious.
"Even when you mess up, you never stop being His child. Never, ever. Because it isn't about what you do. It is about whose you are. Do you understand, love?"
A smile breaks across his face, and I take in the moment. His boyish little face, with freckles dusting his nose and cheeks. His blue eyes, sparkling with recognition. "Thanks mom."
And he hugs me. I buy him a milkshake, and we spend the rest our outing talking, mainly about him. Things he likes to do- reading, cooking, sports. But he makes an effort to ask me questions about myself too. He is a sweet companion.
When I get home, I feel momentarily refreshed.
Amazing is the irony of how pouring out actually fills you up.
And all is grace.