I’m so sorry, she says, with big eyes and a downward tilt of her head.
I’ve heard that already. Two other times today, sweetheart, for the same thing.
Mommy I’m so so sorry.
I forgive you. And I am not angry. But I love you and I want you to know that this is not okay, so this time I’m going to have discipline you.
And I hand down the sentence, what it will be and how long it will last, and the change is instant and stunning. Remorse flees and in its place, red hot anger.
Fine, she says, with flashing eyes and a proud cock of her head. I won’t even eat supper for three days. And I’ll sleep outside.
It’s almost as bad as the time she was two years old and, so angry that she could think of no other words, she looked at me square in the face and shouted, “You’re a seventy-two!!!”
And I sigh deeply in my spirit, because I know how she feels and I am coming to know the gravity of this thing called sin. And I wish it didn’t have its claws in my six year old but it’s how we come into the world, and there is only one way to deal with it and that way is not within ourselves. But she is wrapped up in herself right now, and I know from experience that if you are wrapped up in yourself, you will never see the Savior.
Why are you angry? I ask.
I’m not angry, she replies, seething.
And more to myself than to her, I wonder again, Why are you angry? Is it because of the consequences? Or is it because you know you messed up?
Because if she is fuming because she will be deprived of her treat for three nights, then she doesn’t understand sin. But if her anger is spilling out of shame because of her offense, then she doesn’t understand grace.
And you can’t really have one without the other.
If you don’t know that you fall short of the glory of God, then you won’t know that you need to be redeemed. And if you don’t know that the wages of sin is death, then you won’t know that it’s impossible to be your own redeemer. And if you don’t know that the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord, then you won’t know where to find a redeemer. And if you don’t know that He died for you while you were still a sinner, then you won’t know that His love is unconditional and extravagant.
These are all the things I know, and all the things that matter. They are all the things that I long to teach her, and they all are swirling around in my head and my heart and she is sitting in front of me with fury in her face and all I can do is cry out in my soul. Cry out in humility because she is me before I knew. Cry out in gratitude because of the depth of Your love and the sufficiency of the gospel. Cry out in surrender because I can’t do anything to save my daughter from her deepest problem. And cry out in hope because You can.