21 March 2013

...loves even me.

I’d like to say that I carefully read all the mail we get from missions and institutions and organizations that we support (or that would like us to support them), and that no such missives are ever tossed unopened, but in truth they’re subject to triage like any other aspect of my life at this point.

Recently, I was hovering over the trash can during a desperate counter-clearing effort, doing a pre-pitch skimming of the newsletter from one such mission, when this story changed my trajectory:   

[These two toddlers/preschoolers] are children of a single mother and unknown father. She is a drug addict who works cleaning windshields on the highway. They had lived, or survived, under a bridge fed only on street food, soda, and cookies. Their clothing was ill-fitted, dirty rags. They were victims of indifference.

[When the country’s social services brought the children to the mission], they hadn’t eaten all day. [The boy] was wearing only a t-shirt and a diaper that hadn’t been changed all day. But the smiles on both of their faces, their affection, and their innocence was unforgettable. After eating, bathing, and being dressed in our best, the looks on their faces were indescribable. Yet, they both cried a lot in the days that followed because they missed their mother. Since then, they have adapted well and stolen our hearts.

It wasn’t merely the brokenness of a world in which such stories are all too common, nor the accompanying photos of the children that brought the tragedy to a personal point, that stopped me cold. It was that last bit--did it catch you too? The part that stopped me in my tracks, that accused and humbled and consoled me all at once? Those babies were rescued from filth, neglect, and abuse—Yet, they both cried a lot in the days that followed because they missed their mother.

I feed my kids veggies and whole wheat (at least some of the time). I bathe and clothe them. I’m married to their father and I might even look to some (distant and casual) observers as though I’ve got my life somewhat together. But the really true truth here is that I’m no less in need of forgiveness than the mother who left those kids under the bridge. Nor is this desperately-needed forgiveness available to me in any other special place than it is for her, homemade yogurt and hygiene notwithstanding.

And—astoundingly, humblingly—when my desperate sinfulness spills over, as it too often does, onto them, my kids are just as grudgelessly ready with their love and their seemingly effortless forgiveness, as were those precious little ones whose mother failed more publicly than I.   

Rebekah wrote this one a long time ago, and I still think about it. I think about it because at the end of every day I can count so many times that I’ve screwed up this motherhood thing, again, and yet I can’t count a single time that a child of mine has gone to bed with anger in his heart against me. All this love and trust in their hearts, their eyes, their arms, always at the ready, all undeserved—an overflowing of grace, pure grace, the grace their Heavenly Father so richly and recklessly bestows—thanks be to our prodigal God!


Melrose said...

I can count plenty of times my kids have gone to bed angry at me...when I won't let them sleep with a box of legos or when I take the light sabers out of their covers or when they're so over tired that I have to issue threats to anyone who gets out of their bed even once. We have a very nice bed time routine of devotions and singing but they always seem to love to use those last few minutes between the last kisses and Dad and I making it out of the door to try and bargain us back in or them back out. Which always leaves with one or all of them fussing or crying at us as we go downstairs. So it kind of feels like EVERY night one of them goes to bed angry. :p

Reb. Mary said...

Oh, do I hear you on this. Perhaps I should have been more specific lest anyone get the wrong idea:

With 4 kids in one room (one of whom has particular difficulties in, shall we say, "settling" in for the night), we are not strangers either to bedtime threats and after-hours fiascoes. Sigh.

But think for a moment on how they wake up: While I sometimes struggle with a "hangover" from a particular nightly skirmish, the angst of which has perhaps disturbed my sleep and lingered into my morning mood, the little darlings bound forth quite fresh, no matter how many times I went back in and how many "friends" were confiscated, which tells me that they slept the sweet sleep of peace and security. While I'm still brooding over sin, they've long since moved on and are snoring, secure in God's grace and their family's love.

His mercies are new every morning!

pekoponian said...

Yes! I can't tell you how many times I have failed to keep my temper only to have my kids tell me later on that I'm the best mom ever. I don't deserve their forgiveness, but they keep spontaneously giving it.

Melrose said...

Sigh, yes, I suppose. Though my 3 yr old is kind of angry all the time right now. He wakes up crying, goes to bed crying...don't get me wrong, he has plenty of happy moments too...in a manic sort of way, but he's just so three right now. These years where everyone is little...well it feels like someone is always crying! :p

L. R. Jensen said...

I wanted to cry reading this. I thought of this subject this morning, as I hoped the "habit" of lingering discouragment and anger could be avoided on my part so that we all could carry their sense of freedom in forgiveness.

And I hear you, Mel. Three year olds... I live for our 3 year old's smiles, but when she gets angry I don't know what to do. Like I haven't even been through this before!