The bathroom mirror reflected more than outward appearances that day. Nancy's grim face was lined with frustration, and her eight-year-old daughter was shrieking with anger.
"Moooooom, You're hurrrrrrrrting my head! STOP!" Splotchy patches of pink covered Melissa's tear-stained face.
"I've told you a hundred times to comb your hair every day, Missy." Nancy's biting continued. "These are your consequences. When you don't comb your hair out, it gets tangles. Then when you do try to comb your hair out, it hurts. It's as simple as that." She couldn't help patterning the strokes of the hairbrush after the rhythm of her nagging tone.
"OUCH, not so hard, Mom. It hurrrts."
Her shrill sobbing sent a twinge of pain through Nancy's forehead. "Yeah, well it hurts me when you don't obey me. Your room is a mess. The house is a mess. YOU'RE a mess."
Having had enough of her mom's condescending tone and painful grooming, Melissa shouted, "FINE, then give me the brush and I'LL fix it." She yanked angrily away from her mother and grabbed the sweaty hairbrush from her.
"Go ahead, you do that!" Nancy slammed the bathroom door behind in a huff.
"I'm so sick of the whining. Doesn't she know how much that grates on my nerves?" Nancy grabbed a wet towel off the floor and started up again. "Wrinkled wet towels get moldy, you know."
As she stomped through Missy's messy room, she stepped on a sharp Lego. "ow, Ow, OW!" She could still hear her daughter sobbing behind the closed door as she hopped on one foot through the hallway.
"Why do I even bother? NOBODY helps me around here, and I'm just so sick of all the mess. PLEASE STOP CRYING."
"I hate it when you're frustrated! Why can't you just be patient?" Melissa lashed out at her mother loud enough for the whole neighborhood to hear.
Even through the walls, Melissa's tantrum sent waves of frustration through Nancy's body. She put her hands over her ears and proceeded to the kitchen. "Better start getting supper ready. Who even cares that I haven't had a chance to clean up from lunch yet?" She slammed a pot down on the stove burner. "No ONE. That's what I thought."
She looked out her kitchen window and noticed a hummingbird outside as she washed her hands. Her stained-glass sun catcher reflected a convicting message: 'And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7.'
All of a sudden, she noticed the house was totally silent. "Oh, thank goodness, she's finally quit crying. I'm so sorry, Lord. Please help me to spread peace instead of anger."
Nancy began to feel compassion for the small trauma that her daughter was experiencing and decided she would turn it into a teachable moment. "After all, I'm the mother," she thought, "I'm supposed to be the calm one." Before she could get to her, the wailing had begun again.
Nancy ran the rest of the way. When she opened the bathroom door and looked at her daughter in the mirror, she could not believe her eyes. Although her heart was racing, she kept a tender tone. "Sweetheart, what did you do?"
Little Melissa was standing in a pile of jet-black hair. She sniffled and whimpered in between words. "I--was--sooo--mad--at--you. I wanted to make you mad, but now..." She looked in the mirror again and started to yowl. "Now look at iiiiiit. I look like a weeeirrrrrdoooo."
Scooping Melissa up in her arms, she overcame the horror she felt at the sight of her beautiful daughter's hair. It was ruined beyond help. Melissa's school scissors lay on the vanity surrounded by locks of tangled curly hair.
"God, please help me work through this tangled mess I've made."
"Sweet Missy, I am so sorry for my anger," Nancy whispered into her daughter's hair-filled ears. As she noticed a near bald spot right above her ear, she kissed it tenderly. "Next time we're mad at each other, Mommy will just stop and say a prayer, ok?"
Melissa whimpered. "I'm sorry, too." She dug her shagged hair into her mama's neck. "I feel so ugly, Mama. Can we stop and pray now?"
Yes, the bathroom mirror reflected more than outward appearances that day. Nancy's grim face was lined with regret, and her eight-year-old daughter was sobbing with sorrow. But the glorious reflection of God's grace shone brightly through it all as they prayed.