"If you put your shoes away, it wouldn't be a problem, a problem," she would sing in her silliest high-pitched falsetto when one of her children inevitably came to her bemoaning the fact that they had once again lost their shoes.
And if there is ever a time when one needs to absolutely ensure procurement of a pair of shoes, it's for the big event- the lucky pair of cleats before the big soccer tournament, the waders on the morning of the big duck hunt, or, as in the case of this mother's little ballerina, the ballet slippers on the night of the big recital.
This particular ballerina had in fact neglected to put her shoes away (so it wouldn't be a problem). This night, it was a problem. Here she was just moments away from walking out the door when this mother's dancing daughter found one foot dressed and ready while one foot remained shoeless entirely.
So, the ballerina did what any other one slippered seven-year-old ballerina would do in such a conundrum. Declarations of emergency were followed by hopelessness which was followed by a steady stream of despondent tears. The ballerina's mother was steaming frustration and anger, gritting through her teeth that she thought she might just lose her ever lovin' mind. You can imagine the drama.
The ballerina and her mom were at an impass. There was no time to buy new shoes, no shoes to be borrowed, and no shoes to be found. The ballerina would have to go to the recital shoeless.
But, with acceptance of imperfection sometimes comes a certain peace so after the ballerina and her mother afforded each other a few moments of time and space, a heart to heart full of love and clarity broke through the mother's frustration and the ballerina's sorrow.
Now, I could tell you how the mother assured the ballerina that even though we all make mistakes, we are still deeply loved as we go through this learning process. And she did. I could tell you about the ballerina's recital song and how it so perfectly tied into the lesson of the shoes. And it did. But the lesson of grace and forgiveness that wielded great power and conviction in the mother's heart that night might have been the biggest lesson of all. As she watched her little ballerina leap and twirl on the stage that night, she sat tearfully considering how she could possibly get so frustrated and angry about a shoe- especially while looking into the eyes of a red faced little girl who with a heavy heart confided in her that "it's okay... what really matters is that I'm dancing for the Lord. I'm doing it for Him. That's all that matters."
Sure, the little ballerina might have been a little irresponsible, but the truth is that the ballerina taught her mom a lesson that night about persevering in our imperfection and our weakness, bringing glory to God as the One who loves us no matter what.
As it turns out, another sweet little ballerina let her borrow a slipper so that she wouldn't have to dance with one shoe. The great big God who loves this little ballerina also provided for her that night.
Despite our brokenness, our mistakes, our imperfections, still He loves us. He provides for us. He is patient- oh, so patient- with us.
So this particular mom in our story might still get annoyed with lost shoes, but now, the next time she sings her little song, she'll think of the one slippered ballerina and remember the lesson of forgiveness, grace, and love that her sweet eyed little girl taught her that balmy night of May 2012.
That, and she'll always wonder if it was even ever the ballerina's fault in the first place.