Forgiveness and Consequences

forgiveness

forgiveness (Photo credit: cheerfulmonk)

When her child is hurting, why does a mom take it upon herself to want to strip away the pain, rescuing her child, his immediate happiness trumping an opportunity to pray he use that moment of adversity and trial to grow closer to God.

At least that’s what this mom tends to do.

When my child, even my adult child, chooses to live life separate and apart from his mom, breaking my heart wide open, exposing the rawness, the very nerve endings throbbing red with pain as when a hammer hits a thumb, why does it cause this mom to feel overwhelming guilt for something I may not have done? 

Or perhaps even worse, something I may have done very wrong.

Why must I reduce it to be the result of something I did or didn’t do, rather than a sign of his growing independence as he grows a family of his own? 

It was once told to me that the best gift we can give our children is to teach them how to live without us.  So why must I look at it as a weakness on my part rather than a strength?

Could it be the fact that I still hold myself guilty for something that happened long ago? And why is it so much easier to  grant others forgiveness and grace that we oftentimes cannot extend to ourselves?

Could it be one can’t actually forgive oneself, but only simply give it to God, to be rid of it once and for all? Could something I’ve been making so hard really be that simple? 

Christ has forgiven me for something that happened over a decade ago as many times as I have sought His forgiveness. And that has been a million times. Or so it seems.  

How many times must I ask His forgiveness before it becomes a lack of faith on my part? An unbelief that He forgave me the very first time I fell on my knees, tear-stained, heart broken, still breaking, asking Him to forgive my selfishness and waywardness.  

What if He’s teaching me lessons in forgiveness, trust and consequences?

What if He is teaching me that when my child does something that may cause me heart-wrenching, raw pain, such as turning a back, spouting hurtful words, that that is how my own behavior, as His child,  pains Him?

Asking For Forgiveness

Asking For Forgiveness (Photo credit: hang_in_there)

A pain that is wild beyond description or comprehension.What if He is teaching me the depth of His love and forgiveness? That just because there is forgiveness, does not mean there are no consequences.

Teaching me that even though He has truly forgiven me, unpleasant and painful results from sin long ago can still appear in my life. Like a volcano a decade old, the gray ashes still falling, spiraling down ever so faintly around shoulders who long ago caused the eruption. A reminder.

Teaching me that not only does forgiveness not mean there are no consequences, but that consequences may be part of the forgiveness? In order to teach me a lesson that will last, to prevent further pain. That the price we pay is something to consider a gift.

What if He is teaching me that because He has forgiven, I can rest in Him while I pay that price? That He is with me on the journey, rather than facing the bare, cold bones of that reality alone.

In my child’s worst moments, even my adult child, I would never withhold forgiveness from him, but extend even more love. More grace. More compassion. Walking with him, holding him every step of the way, no matter how rocky or how long the journey. 

What if He is teaching me the reality and depth of His love and forgiveness, knowing that what I am capable of feeling is only a fraction of His love for us. For my son.

That is something to be eternally grateful for. A lesson worth the pain to learn. To remember always.

That I can walk the road of my life,  rocky with debris from my choices and sinfulness, God’s outstretched hand helping me up each and every time I trip because I looked away from Him.  That He watches over my children, His children, better than this mom could ever imagine.

Consequences. Forgiveness. Intertwined to perfection.

Grace to You.

 

The Price of Freedom

English: A folded American flag held by a Unit...

English: A folded American flag held by a United States Marine at the funeral of Douglas A. Zembiec. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Daily life can be so fraught with activity between work and the to-do lists that many of us continually strive to complete.But on this day, Memorial Day, let’s make it a priority to take time to stop, pause, and pray. Let’s give thanks to Christ who fought and paid for our ultimate freedom, and the many men and women who have fought, and continue to fight, to give our country freedom that becomes so easy to take for granted as we blindly and methodically walk through our days.

While I am able to have a barbecue feast with my family and loved ones this day, sit on the porch in the shade of the trees, a refreshing, cool Arnold Palmer on the table beside me, I watch the stars and stripes of the American flag that waves gently in the breeze in my back yard, and remember those who aren’t able to enjoy this day with their loved ones because they are fighting for, or have given their lives for, our country.  That we may continue to enjoy the magnificent freedoms we have.

Today, may we pay our soldiers homage and say a prayer for them, that God will return them safely to their families to enjoy the freedom they fight so hard for, as well as a prayer of thanksgiving for what they do for us each and every day they fight the good fight.

Grace to you.

Active Love

Active love or act of love? One and the same or two different meanings?

I can see the same thing over and over again and not fully recognize the fullness of it until God opens my heart to really see it.

Such was the case when I was driving in the Denver area a couple of weeks ago.  The exit I had turned onto had the same man standing at the busy corner, holding the same sign.  And I caught myself doing the same thing I always do when I reach that intersection–or any intersection that temporarily houses the homeless.  I looked the other way, not wanting to see what spoke loudly.  Someone that needed my help.

English: A homeless man in Paris Français : Un...

English: A homeless man in Paris Français : Un sans domicile fixe à Paris. Tiếng Việt: Một người đàn ông vô gia cư ở Paris Polski: Bezdomny mężczyzna w Paryżu See below for more translations. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It reminded me of when I was a child in school and the teacher was looking to call on someone for an answer to a question she had just asked.  An answer I did not have.  I would squirm in my seat and look down at my desk, maybe pretend to be writing something, hoping  she wouldn’t see me.  If I didn’t look at her, then she couldn’t see me.  Sounds silly, I know.  But when I find myself in an uncomfortable place, my desire to get out of it often knows no bounds. How many times I had seen this same scenario before, at this exact corner, and it hadn’t called for my attention.  At least not so loudly as it was doing now.  Yet, I continued the game of “if I can’t see you, you can’t see me,” through the two light cycles it took for me to safely pass out of sight.  And when I couldn’t see him, I falsely assumed he would be out of my mind.On my way home from Denver that day, my heart and mind felt discontented, but I couldn’t quite place why.  All I had done was run a few errands, getting things done that needed to be done.  So while I should have felt a sense of accomplishment, I felt heavily burdened.

And then the source of the heaviness came before me with a wave of guilt and shame.  God had spoken to me through the homeless man on the corner.  The one I couldn’t get away from fast enough.  While he was calling me to help someone less fortunate than I was, I listened by turning my eyes and heart away from Him.  God, who has given me all I have and blessed me far beyond what I deserve, was asking me to help someone, and I denied His request.

I thought about Matthew 25:37-40, which states:

‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ (NKJV)

The Sermon of Jesus on the mount. Fresco by Fr...

The Sermon of Jesus on the mount. Fresco by Franz Xaver Kirchebner in the Parish church of St. Ulrich in Gröden-Ortisei build in the late 18th century. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had turned my back on my God and the opportunity he was giving me to serve Him by being kind and compassionate to ‘the least of these.’And the million dollar question I have heard raised by so many people and have asked myself many times before–if we give them money, will they spend it on alcohol?  Am I enabling his alcoholism by contributing to his need?I don’t know.  And I truly don’t believe that that’s for me to decide, nor is it within my control.   What I do know, however,  is that it is my responsibility, and my joy,  to do what God calls me to do.  To keep my heart open to Him and obey when He calls me to serve Him, however that may look.  The rest is up to God.  It may have been in His plan to change that man’s life with the offering I decided not to give.

I believe that giving benefits the giver every bit as much as the one being given to.  Next time, I pray I will listen, obey, and leave the rest to God.  He is in control.

Grace to you.

The Magic of Words and Story

So I finally completed that project I had put off for all too long—cleaning files that had accumulated over the past two decades, only to land themselves in a closed box in the back of an unused closet.  And that project I thought I didn’t want to do was one of the greatest joys I’ve had in a long time.

Those files contained time travel magic back to days I had long since forgotten. Days that held love and connection with the people most important in my life. Memories that were buried had sprung to life with vibrancy unmatched by anything I could ever recall.

I found certificates I had won through numerous poetry contests, short stories I had written, and floppy disks that held three novels I had written and forgotten about. (Yes, floppy discs. That was a while ago, wasn’t it?)

English: 8-inch, 5,25-inch, and 3,5-inch flopp...

I found cards written to me by my boys when they were so small; professing their love for me and telling me I was “the best mom ever.” I should have kept those cards close by to remind them of those feelings during their teenage years when I had at times become “the meanest mom ever.”

I remembered the love of books and story my boys and I shared as I found stories they had told me.  I wrote them down word for word so as not to change their story, but keep it completely theirs. Here is one of those stories by my then five-year-old, Ben:A screenshot of the Care Bears Play Day game

Care Bears

“One of my Care Bear friends were stolen.  It was by a robber.  He was going outside and he took off and a stranger took him.  He ran away from his mommy when they were going for a walk.  Then one of the good grownups got stolen, and they got stolen by a mean guy and they killed him.  My Care Bear friends are just for pretend though.  They got by two houses. The two mean guys were neighbors.”

Yes, we watched a lot of Care Bears.

Another paper was written by that same boy at nine years of age. This one is self-explanatory.

“I should listen to mom and dad because if I don’t I might get in trouble or get grounded or even do fifty words like I am doing now. I rilly don’t like doing this but I deservit because I was mesing around at the church. I got in trouble by not listening.”

Hmmm…

My other son, Alex, at four years of age dictated the following words to me as I wrote:

“Are you afraid of the dark? Do you know what? A monster came and the witch got in the way of the TV that the little baby was watching. The witch stealed the baby then the hunterman came and shot the witch and the monster.”

Uhhh…yeah…not even sure what to say about that one.

But with the next paper I came across, that little boy was angelic. It read:

“I’m sorry Ben for slapping you. Will you forgive me.  Love Alex.”

The love in that tender heart is still present today. Not through words so much, but action. And actions often speak louder than words.

As my boys were growing up, I wrote in journals daily, one for each boy, until they reached the age of twelve. That’s when one of them let me know, “Mom, I think I can remember what I do now. I AM twelve, you know.”  He may have been twelve, but he was still my baby. And the writing in those journals, I think, may have been more for me than for them. Born of the fear that I might someday forget the smallest detail of the best years of my life. Raising my children.

Words and story have held such a significant part of the lives my boys and I have shared. And now that they are adults, a new story yearns to be written. As my first grandchild was just born nine short weeks ago, the most beautiful little angel, I see my son in her, and await the story that unfolds as her life unfolds.  New words. New stories. New memories to fill more files. And to fill hearts with love.

Grace to you.

Love