He was playing with something that used to be hers so the ownership was not unfounded, but when she shoved his sweet little arms off the toy Mama Bear lunged.
My reprimand was direct and angry and loud. Indignant at the tiny human, I sent her away, “GO TO YOUR ROOM NOW!!
Her mouth crumpled up, her eyes swelled with shock, she stood up straight and stepped back trying to escape the fearful explosion coming from the one she usually feels safest with. She did not know what to do and stumbled awkwardly away, hoping I would call her back.
It wasn’t okay for her to push him. She was being selfish and her immediate, uninspired, barely breathed “sorry” was proof that she knew better.
But…. my baby. Her. With the kindest little heart I’ll ever know and the fiercest streak of stubborn since her mother. She wasn’t really sorry until I made her sorry… And that made me sorry.
And it made me think about our Father. As he watches his kids hurt each other with meanness in our pores, his anger must be kindled, yet the quick response to misery – even the kind we bring upon ourselves – is… Well that’s parenthood, isn’t it?
I am vile and unthinkably arrogant. I speak death right off my sharp tongue, I breathe it out, I let it dance, I give it movement. My brow can furrow in just that way to make the man I promised to cherish feel worthless. I can twist truth until even I believe the lesser version. I have the most hateful, ugly thoughts about the most beautiful people – people chosen, adored, gifted by God.
And I can break down her precious heart with a defensive, thoughtless impulse.
Then I find myself – buried into the carpet among candles and a marked up copy of Screwtape Letters – flooded with grace. Overcome with mercy. Identifying with demons, but dancing with angels. I find myself in front of something more Holy than I can picture, more loving than I know is available to us. His response to my callous behavior is more grace.
“Your kindness leads us to repentance.”
Maybe God could make us sorry. Maybe we could be chased into the Kingdom with a club. Threats of hate. Threats of punishment. Threats of separation. Maybe that’s how things could be organized.
But that is not how things are organized.
Actually, things are pretty disorganized, but one thing that stands out in everybody’s mess is that there is Light. There is Love. There is Hope and Joy and Peace and things that shouldn’t be there. Things that don’t belong. Like Grace. And God looking like a fool – running like a madman, flinging out his arms, leaping to hold his kid.
So let there be foolish love here. Let my home be a place of suckers falling for it every time. Let us be a cave of asses speaking truth and taking hits. And when that darling girl shows her darkness let me meet it with a light that drives it right on out. Let her fall heavy into arms ready and willing to lift her up again. Let us teach the grace we’ve found to be our lifeline to the children we hope will see it that way, too.
I spoke softly and called her back. I dried her tears and told her I was truly sorry for yelling at her. I talked to her about taking care of her brother and I talked to her about how much I love them. Because when I am at my ugliest God makes sure I know those fundamentals.
“Love because I love you.”