Goodbye Bunny Sweater
By Jane Thornton -
Easter Sunday – the day I finally get to stop wearing brown and dark green and bring out the pastels. I know I age myself by following that custom; my daughter has been wearing flip-flops for weeks. This year, though, I rummaged through the closet with a more undefined goal than usual.
Each year, I normally go searching for my bunny sweater. It sports white, knit, fluffy-tailed bunnies on a pink and baby blue background. Perfect for a fashionable welcome of spring. However, as referenced in my article “Vanity, Vanity,” my children’s mockery of my outdated style has forced me to abandon my traditional garb.
So, today as I called out, “Time to go!” and gathered the car keys, I was decked out in a classy, white, linen dress with pearl buttons and sleek lines that fell to mid-calf.
My twenty-year-old son shook his head when he saw me. “Kind of old-fashioned, Mom.”
Indignation drew sputters from me. Finally I managed, “Hey, I’m not wearing my bunny sweater.”
He drew me into a hug and patted me with condescending hands. “Baby steps. Baby steps.” I guess he thinks he’s being cruel to be kind.
I’m asking myself why I’m trying to please a barely post-teen boy who is trying to grow out his hair in order to create dreadlocks.
Recently I have also been questioning my ability to please my employers. As a teacher, that group would include administrators, parents, and the state. The current failure rate of my students is high, and that statistic has earned the stamp ineffective. That label hurts.
Just like when my children questioned my fashion-sense, the aspersions on my teaching made me defensive. I cried on my colleague’s shoulder, then on my husband’s, then on my mom’s. It’s been a wet week. Amid all my justifications (many of them valid, I must say), I had to evaluate what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, and why.
Although I’m working very hard, my students’ failure is to some degree my failure. My mom and sister – did I mention I cried on her shoulder, too? – volunteered to pray by name for each of my failing students. Why haven’t I been doing that? Once again, I’ve become wrapped up in the day to day details and lost sight of the big picture.
And the big picture is more vast than I can imagine. I hate to admit it, but my clothing may never dazzle my children. And my failure rate may never satisfy my employer. Although, I think I may have more of a chance there.
They are not whom I have to please.
My aim is to please my Father, my Creator. And He has taken care of that for me. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (NIV) If He is willing to wash away my sins, my intentional wrong-doing, will he not also cover over my shortcomings when I’ve tried and tried or become weary of trying?
He promises peace (Philippians 4:6-7). He promises strength (Philippians 4:13). He promises wisdom (James 1:5). Then He works through our weakness. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ …That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” II Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV)
I find reassurance in these words of an Amy Grant song:
All I ever have to be is what You made me.
Any more or less would be a step out of Your plan.
As You daily re-create me, help me always keep in mind
That I only have to do what I can find.
And all I ever have to be, all I have to be, is what You made me.