A few Sundays ago started off in a whopping way for our little Miss Ravenna...she was grumpy and by the time we were in the car to church had a list of apologies for each member of the family that she needed to make...and then some. For the whole 30 minute ride to church, while Parker (AKA "Spuz" right now) yelled out things like, "Mama LOOK!!! That tree is even bigger than my eyeball!" and Georgia tried to touch her nose with her tongue, our sweet little girl deliberated. She looked out the window sober faced and quiet. We had explained how much we loved her and that we knew she was grumpy but also that she had hurt people in the family and needed to make it right. She knows that the Bible talks about keeping short accounts and that our hearts feel heavy when we have sinned against someone and against God. That she was taking it to heart was written all over her face.
During that ride Doug I prayed and worried, had we set the bar too high? She could not get a treat after church unless she apologized. Were we being too tough (she had never had 6 apologies to make at once before)? Were we harming her in some way? Her sad little face sure could be convincing of it. We held our breath and waited it out.
It was so incredibly tempting to give in, to change the rules, lessen the consequences. So tempting to do whatever it would take to take away that sad little face. But, is parenting about making our kids happy? I read recently from another mom that her main goal is not to make her kids happy but holy...to make them kids of character. I want my kids to know how important it is to make things right between others and the Lord, not to just act poorly and then let it slip like water under the bridge waiting a bit for everyone to forget and be happy. I know that it is painful to apologize to fix things but I also know the fruit on the other side...but would Ravenna?
As we hit the exit from the freeway for church, we reminded Ravenna again that we were only a few minutes away and now was the time. Our little girl reached out her hand to me and , as we held hands she proceeded to look each member of the family in the eye.Tearfully she said was sorry and exactly what she was sorry for. We each forgave her and as we parked at church I held her, tears of pride falling down my own cheeks.
We got inside and did all of the pottying, nametags etc that come with tucking three kids in to Sunday school. As I got ready to say good bye to Ravenna, she snuggled up really close to me and said, "I love you so much Mama...tell me what you learn in big church". She has been in big church with us before and knows what it is about but this is the first time she had asked about it. I told her I wasn't sure, that we are studying the book of Matthew. She said , "I know Mattthew!" and rattled off her memory verses and then said, "Mama, do you promise that you will tell me every little thing that you learn about Jesus?"
I spent a good portion of church thinking about my little girl and what had happened that morning. I had been so worried that asking her to do so much, so many apologies would bring shame upon her shoulders. I was SO tempted to ease her burden for her... and yet, I realized that when God calls us to make things right with Himself and with others, it is not to bring shame, but to bring healing. That healing and freedom then bring a hunger...to know Him more. The one who made a way for our sins to be truly forgiven asks us to turn around, repent and walk the other way...not for shame of the sins we have committed but for the LOVE and HEALING that He pours out through it.