Today was a day of faulty feedings:
- I fed the kids scrappy granola bars in the van for breakfast (Fail! I woke up twenty minutes before we had to leave)
- I forgot to feed myself lunch (until it was almost time for class, making me late)
- And…I fed my flesh by venting frustration on my poor child (most grievous feeding of all).
The thing is, nothing frustrates me more than one of my children hurting another one.
That’s what happened this morning. A selfish act (having to do with an ipod–ugh!) left child number one acting self righteous and denying guilt, while child number two sobbed–those fearful, helpless sobs we cry when someone we love hurts us.
And I got mad.
“How could you do that? You purposely tried to cause hurt! You invaded your sibling’s space without asking…and I’m sick of it!” And of course these words (and many more like them) were bellowed not from a place of true parental discipline. Not thinking about how I can help this dear child grow and do better. Not from a place of grace. No, I wore my ugly, judging face as I hammered. The one that says, “You are not worthy to be my child. I’m so much better than you. I’m your judge.”
But even in the midst of this sin bounding from my heart through my mouth onto my offspring, God’s grace penetrated. It was amazing (isn’t His grace always?). Even as I unleashed judgment, my conscious was pricked. I knew the satisfaction I felt in venting was my sinful heart rejoicing in what it loves most—to hurt and not love, to think of myself and not others, to tear down and not build up.
So, rather than give the law as a nasty, hypocritical judge, I gave the law as one sinner to the other.
“You have broken God’s law,” I said. “You did not love as God calls you to. You disobeyed me, the authority God has put over you, and you have selfishly sought your own interest.”
Well, for some reason, that didn’t soothe the child’s soul.
“I try to be good, Mama. I do, but I keep failing.” Now this child’s eyes were the ones shedding tears.
By His grace, I continued.
“Sin is powerful, a very strong enemy,” I said. “We win some battles against sin, and we lose some, but Christ…He’s won the war.”
Not so much weeping coming from the child, just shaky breaths.
“And my dear, He forgives you. Run to Him, and you know what? He’ll run to you. Like the Father in the Prodigal Son, He doesn’t wait for you to reach Him, He runs to you, takes you into his arms, and holds you. You are His child and He will never stop loving you no matter how many battles with sin you lose.”
He didn’t say anything, but the tears stopped. His breathing calmed, and he smiled. Then a hug.
“I’m sorry for hurting you.” Words said to the wounded party.
“I forgive you.”
Another hug and kind words the rest of the day.
The Gospel did that–calmed a sinner’s heart, replaced guilty despair with relieved joy, reconciled mom and child and sister and brother. Sin is powerful, but the Gospel is more powerful.
So, do you think what I said to my child applies to a mom who feeds her flesh by venting frustration on a child? Does He forgive me for that?
I’m pretty sure He does.
And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20 ESV)