faith · motherhood · reflections

The Sweetest Moments of Forgiveness

My kids break the rules a lot. Whether it’s one more episode of Netflix after they’ve been told to turn it off, or only brushing their teeth with water instead of toothpaste, or just plain going out of their way to aggravate one another, there’s always someone doing something wrong.

It doesn’t help that I’m not all that great an enforcer. Follow through has never been my strongest trait.

So sometimes there’s a lot of yelling and a lot of crying and a lot of frustration. Sometimes there’s me holding them to an unattainable standard that I haven’t even really spelled out for them, so it’s unfair to punish for something they didn’t really get was wrong in the first place.

That’s my middle child’s favorite excuse.

“But you didn’t say don’t eat ice cream in the living room. You just said eat a snack!”

Well I didn’t realize I had to remind you for the 1000th time that the living room isn’t where we eat snacks! Sound familiar?

I tell you honestly, this journey through motherhood has taught me more about God’s love than the twenty-four years prior I spent in a sanctuary. I get that love now without having it spelled out in a sermon–how His love is unconditional and passionate and fiery and jealous and merciful.  Because until I have walked through the fires of sleep deprivation and chore charts and please, please can someone pick up the crayons off the floor, I didn’t get it.  I didn’t get how much He must love me.

And how exasperated He deserves to be with me.

Because I keep trying to live and raise my kids and govern my life under the letter of the law. Rules are good, sure. Rules give parameters and guidelines and function to society and classrooms and homes. But following rules, checking off boxes, getting a sticker reward–that does nothing to forgive my soul for it’s ugly tendencies toward sins like coveting or anger or pride.
As Easter approaches, I’ve been trying to really, truly grasp the weight and glory of the cross. I’ve been trying to see it through the film of my own life, to better understand this faith I hold to be true but sometimes cannot put into words. Then a pastor friend uttered these words at Friday’s MOPS devotion:
We have to sit under the weight of God’s curse before we can truly grasp the meaning of the cross.
And I thought about my kids. 
So often we put our children under the weight of law and of course, when that law is broken there are consequences. And if you’re anything like me, you’re doling out those consequences with a pretty short fuse and a whole lot of irritation.
But God’s law doesn’t work like that. Instead, with Him, we have to commit the sin before we know the sweetness of forgiveness.

We have to break in order to mend.

Once, I really, really lost it with my middle daughter. She had pushed me beyond my limits and I slammed out the door in a fury to cool off before I could deal with her anymore. I was mad, and I just knew, I was going to have to go back in there and issue a punishment fitting to her crime and also, explain again, that I was sorry I had gotten so angry. I was so tired of being the one to ask for and offer forgiveness that seemed to mean nothing to her.

But she came to me first. Out the door in a sobbing heap, she crawled into my lap, grasping at my neck and saying, “I’m sorry, mommy, I’m sorry.”

And my anger just melted. I think that’s what God does for us. His anger has just melted away because through Christ, we can come to Him, we can climb in His lap and beg forgiveness and He can give it wholly.

Until I sat under the weight of motherhood, under the weight of a love so great I would give my life for any of my children, I didn’t really understand the depth of unconditional forgiveness. 

I didn’t really grasp the meaning of the cross.

Now it is an extraordinary thing for one to give his life even for an upright man, though perhaps for a noble and lovable and generous benefactor someone might even dare to die. But God shows and clearly demonstrates His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners Christ [the Messiah, the Anointed One] died for us. 

Romans 5:7-8 (Amplified)
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