For years, I have told my now 8-year-old daughter that she would need to wait until her 10th birthday to get her ears pierced. That was the way my parents had done it for me, and I wanted to carry on the tradition with my own daughter. I envisioned this event as a defining moment in her life, marking the beginning of becoming a young lady.
But this idealistic notion changed this year when I gave into her pleadings that had grown increasingly incessant. She desperately wanted her ears pierced on her 8th birthday, and I compromised by creating what I hoped would be a win-win solution: She could get what she wanted early if she fulfilled a contract I created. This was parenting genius in my eyes. All the ways I wanted her to behave better, all my frustrations with her, she would most certainly change so that she could get what she wanted most. Or so I thought.
Over the next few months every time she complained and failed at her contract, I lovingly tried to remind her “earrings!” Or in my occasional distress I’d chastise with the remark, “See, this is why you aren’t ready for earrings.” The whole beautiful experience that it was supposed to be slowly became a negative and discouraging damper that was creeping into every day of our life. Her 8th birthday passed, and my daughter’s earrings hopes had been dashed.
The last few days of summer had me wondering if there was any way to redeem this “genius” plan of mine before school began. I cannot take any credit for what transpired next, because it was truly a supernatural intervention that unfolded. I decided to concede to get her ears pierced now, but before the click of the earring trigger, we would take the time to have a deep conversation. This was the perfect tangible example for a little girl to learn about grace.
Grace is when we are blessed with something that we don’t deserve. And in her failure to fulfill the contract I set up, my daughter technically didn’t earn her coveted earrings. But this unfolding reminded me of the many ways I have been greatly blessed when I did not warrant the generosity I received. I too have disappointed others and not fulfilled expectations. But those gifts have taught me that accepting grace, as well as giving it, will help me grow in compassion and peace.
This complex concept of grace is now permanently pierced in my daughter’s ears and in her heart. It has opened up conversations about love, mercy, and redemption, and has turned something discouraging into something of bright joy. Getting her ears pierced has been a special moment as I hoped, but not even remotely as I had imagined. It has become even more precious, and more defining than I could have dreamed.