18 October 2010

Savior, when in dust to Thee

Women and mothers: we are our own worst critics. Living with ourselves all day and all night, often deprived of the company of rational adults who might function as buffers, or at least moderators of our excesses, we have ample opportunity to display and to deplore our vices—and to see our failings reflected in the child-mirrors that are before us all the day.

The seriousness of this sin cannot be dismissed. These are no mere mistakes, nor simple moments of weakness, nor unfortunate confluences of events beyond our control. My sin is my fault, my own fault, my own most grievous fault. Most grievous!

Darkly alone amid the children’s clamoring, a woman can begin to feel lost in the cyclical grievousness of her own faults. Resolutions once made are broken a moment later by an impatient word, an angry glance, a downward spiral of despair. Confession itself can begin to seem a dreaded burden when the very selfsame sins comprise the list time after time, not even bothering to disguise themselves or to affect a more creative flair, but parading brazenly through in the same old rags, week after week. A woman’s heart grows heavy, and her words weary of reprising the tiresome theme.

But! Confession is an important word, a crucial word, a daily word—but not the last word. No, the last word is not confession, nor is it “just try harder…or at least sin a bit more creatively so that it seems like you’re getting somewhere.” The last word is sweet, sweet absolution. No matter how spectacularly awful or tiresomely trivial the offense, grace has the last word—if only we can shut our mouths and still our hearts long enough to hear it.

“Your sins are forgiven. Christ has made you whole.” Depart the confessional (whether that of a father confessor, of corporate confession, or of two minutes’ sobbing in the bathroom), go in peace, and sin no more. God’s mercies are new every morning—every hour—every moment.

Dwell in the exhilarating deluge of Baptism. Feast on His forgiveness. Pass the grace, please, and hold out your hands to receive a lavish portion as it goes by.


Rebekah said...

I sometimes wonder if all those "mom sins" are actually distracting me from my real ones. :P

Kaylee Hicks said...

Thank you so much for this post. Yesterday our pastor was quoting Luther when he writes that the law is very necessary but the gospel is the final word. And a blessed final word it is! What would we do without the forgiveness of our sins and like you said daily.

"grace has the last word—if only we can shut our mouths and still our hearts long enough to hear it." Why is there such a battle for us to hear this gracious word of forgiveness? But once we do hear it, what peace and joy is bestowed on us!

I've been reading your blog for sometime now and greatly appreciate it. Thank you!

Untamed Shrew said...

Good stuff, Reb Mary.

Heads up, all: in a decade or two one of my offspring will publish a best-seller entitled "Screamy Mommy." Let's just remember to whom the credit is really due.

Leah said...

Thank you so much. That was so well said and true.
A while back our pastor read an article by a Lutheran pastor - how I wish I could remember which one! - that said something like, when your head hits the pillow at night and all your failures of the day begin to torment you (ah, how often does this happens!), you must then and there confess and give all your sins to God (and not take them back again!) and let the absolution be the final word of the day, and then, as Luther would say, go to sleep joyfully and at peace.

ζωὴν περισσὸν said...

RM, as usual you echo my own thoughts and feelings:

...but oh so much more eloquently.

Still, the last word, neither yours nor mine but the Lord's, is grace. Sweet grace! Rich grace!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this post. Yesterday, my baby was being particularly stubborn, obstinate, and sinful - and I reacted with anger, frustration, and temper. Afterward, I cried, not only for my sins but for the example I am setting for my child. What a wonderful reminder of the gospel for me and for that sinner/saint baby of mine.

Reb. Mary said...

And another source of wonder: my mouth, which offends doubly (the sin and then the refusal to shut long enough to hear that final word, which is not about me) is the very mouth into which Forgiveness is placed. His grace is lavish indeed!

Gauntlets said...

Thank you, friend. :)