As I've said before, I'm not much a spiritual blogger - but sometimes, things during my day will leave me broken and overwhelmed and sometimes in the midst of the brokenness and sadness I am overcome with such a grace-filled attitude that I am certain the only explanation is the Holy Spirit.
Today, I had one of those moments.
We were at Target, of course. Jack had already put in a full day at Bible camp and I needed to get caught up on all the things on my checklist for my big church event this weekend. We started at Starbucks (as we so-often do) and the chocolate milk and vanilla bean frappuccino bought me a few precious, non-drama-filled moments perusing the glorious aisles of Target.
I took my time and the kids were being [sort-of] good. Somewhere in the middle, Jack had asked for some neon colored pencils, fresh from the fully-stocked school supply aisle. I asked him if he'd be willing to pay me back for them (they were $2.99 for 8 measly pencils) and he agreed and made it clear that he really, really wanted these pencils. He'd been good and had listened so I said he could get them. We then hit the candy aisle to buy some prizes for the event and I let him pick out a bag of candy that he would be able to share with the Farmer's softball team later in the evening.
...and then it all went down hill from there...
I'm really not sure what happened, but it was like he hit a wall. When he's over tired he gets overly emotional, he shuts down and he gets angry and naughty. He began bossing his sister around, yelling at her to get back in the cart and when I kindly asked him to stop and reassured him that I would take care of corralling princess back into the cart, he didn't let up. I mean, it was weird. For those of you that know Jack, he has the kindest heart, the sweetest disposition and is rarely upset or angry. And it got to the point where I had had enough.
As we made our final walk down the main aisle to the check out, he broke the last straw. I asked him 3 separate times to not climb in and out of the cart because his dear sister insists on copying his every move and would end up hurting herself. He continued to ignore my requests and I calmly said - "that's it, they're going back - both of them" and I set the treat and the colored pencils back on a shelf and we walked away.
His heart shattered. I immediately saw the repentance and shame in his eyes. He knew he had hurt me by not listening. I know that sweet boy and he doesn't like to disappoint me. So I'm not sure what hurt him more, the fact that he had failed me, or the fact that he didn't get his treasures. He cried, but tried to fight back the tears. He didn't put up a fight or throw a tantrum, he just sat down and silently wept to himself because he knew he was wrong. He knew that losing the treats was his fault.
I explained on the rest of the walk to the register that when we disobey there are consequences and that he had disobeyed too many times today so he wasn't going to get his treats.
And then something inside me hit me like a Mack truck.
How many times have I failed my God? Countless.
And how many times has He remained faithful, generous and loving? Countless.
I don't deserve any of God's grace, but He gives it so willingly anyways. And that was on my heart in that moment. I felt like it was such a clear way to show how much we don't deserve God's love, yet it's always there.
I passed up the party bag aisle and sent Jack down to pick out 4 party bags for me that I needed for the prizes. As he obliged, I told him I forgot one thing and I'd be right back to pick him up in that aisle. I snuck back to the shelf I had discarded his treat and pencils on and hid them under the piles of picnic supplies in my cart. We picked Jack back up in the party aisle and headed to the checkout.
AND, as luck would have it, or as God so cleverly planned, Jack needed to go to the bathroom as we approached the lanes. So he went to use the men's room and I paid for his goodies and hid them in my purse.
After I was all checked out and loaded up with all my purchases, I waited for Jack outside the restrooms. He walked out, his head still hung in sadness. I knew, that he knew he was wrong. So I asked him why those things were taken away from him.
He said "because I didn't listen."
I reminded him, though, that there's good news.
"What good news?" he asked, grumpily.
I asked him - what do we know is true when we mess up?
He knew the answer - but it took a little coaxing. "What is always true?"
"God and Jesus forgive us, all the time." He finally answered.
And I explained that since Jesus took the penalty for our sins, God could forgive us when we mess up. And since God always forgives, we need to always forgive each other. And I asked him "you know what that means?"
"You forgive me?" He said with tears in his eyes. And I nodded my head and hugged him.
He cried a very hard, sad cry with his arms wrapped tightly around me. It was a moment that I don't want to forget because I felt his repentance in his embrace and in his tears. He was truly sorry.
I continued, "God's forgiveness is a gift that we don't deserve." And I pulled the two little treats out from my bag and handed them to him. "Just like you don't really deserve these treats, neither do we deserve the grace that God gives through Jesus. But He loves us SO much that he sent Jesus in our place."
But now, we need to work on being better. We're never going to be perfect and there's no such thing as earning grace. Grace is FREE. It came at a cost - Jesus' life. The price has been paid. In full.
This might be really far fetched, but for a 6-year-old brain to try to comprehend God's never-failing, never-ending grace, I just thought I'd give it a try. I mean, really I still have a hard time wrapping my 29-year-old brain around God's love. Then I told Jack I loved him - and reminded him that the God of our Universe loves him even more than I ever could - how AWESOME is that?
On the way out to the car that we talked about how we need to work on obeying the first time and remember that since we were so wonderfully forgiven that we, too, should forgive. When someone hurts us or sins against us, we should not be mean or harsh, but show love and forgiveness.
I don't have all the answers. Some people might think I did the wrong thing by giving him the treats even though he disobeyed. But I feel like moments like this are so few and far between for me. And God spoke so clearly to my heart and so quickly (sometimes I feel like it happens after-the-fact and I think "gosh, that would have been a great way to teach him ____") that I would have regretted not acting on my instincts. I'm glad I did.
The colored pencils sit on the kitchen table awaiting a new day to be colored with. Jack decided to forgo the softball game and instead helped me with my work out. I worked out - he ate candy. I snuggled with him and talked about his day before bed and I continue to treasure every moment I have while he's this impressionable. I've read far too many blog posts lately about how kids with have their "lasts" or how fast they grow up. And the one line that rings in my mind just about every day...
"There will be a time when you put him down and don't pick him back up"
Oh, my heart breaks to think of that day.
Tonight Jack prayed for all the people in the whole entire world to have good dreams and no nightmares. Tonight, I'm thankful for teachable moments and pray that I have more of them everyday.
God is good, all the time.
The Farmer's Wife