It's 2:51 am as I sit down to type this, and I'm doing so not so much because I feel SO SO compelled to write its contents, but because I was just awoken by the most unsettling dream (and some itchy feet, for some reason), and I cannot go back to sleep until I get the disturbing images of the bear in our house (Yes. A bear. In our HOUSE.) out of my head. I fully realize that tomorrow, when I read this post in full coherence, I will find it absurd that this dream kept me up--it was a friendly bear, apparently, because after it wandered into our yard, it had come into the house, hopped up on the kids' bed with them, and was letting them pet it like a dog--but there you have it. The bear dream was too much for me.
So now I'm here, listening to the calming hum of the fan and squinting against the glare of the computer screen, and I want to tell you about the most marvelous illustration of God's forgiveness that I saw today. It really struck me when it happened, and I knew at the time it was destined for Ye Olde Neglected Blog, I just had no idea I'd be giving it words so soon.
The napping arrangement in our house finds Judah upstairs in the kids' bedroom and Charis downstairs on our bed. We tried having them nap in the same room with each other, but it did not go well. At all. So Charis is in our bed for naps, and for the most part, this works out well. The downside is that, at age four, she has come to the point where she really doesn't need naps everyday (even though I really need her to nap for my sanity's sake), so naptime is very frequently a battle to try to get her to stay in bed. The rule is that she is not required to sleep, but she does need to stay in bed for a rest. Some days, she actually falls asleep. But on some days, like today, she is up a lot, claiming a need to use the potty (I'm afraid to call her bluff on that one) or claiming a need to "tell me something," or just up in our room playing in the curtains or in the closet, where she inevitably dumps the single-sock basket. Again, let me reiterate that while she doesn't have an absolute need for a nap on a daily basis, it is essential to the preservation of my sanity, and when naptime is a struggle, my sanity creeps away from me.
Today was one of those lost-sanity naptimes.
Charis had come out THREE times to use the potty, and one time to get another book to look at, and another time, she burst out of the door, waking poor Ruby with her excited yelps about the lost shoe she just found. I deduced that if she had found a shoe, she was most certainly out of bed. So I told her to go back into the room, which she did, and lay down, which she didn't. Minutes later, I stuck my head in the door, hoping to find that she had decided to obey, but was dismayed to find her in the closet and single socks scattered all over the room. She had also removed the pillowcases from our pillows, and had filled them with books and the eye-relief rice pack that is off-limits to her. To say that I was incensed would be putting it mildly. My sanity flew out the window, and I flew into a rage. I was so angry she had flouted the rules so repeatedly. I yelled and I yelled, I threw socks back into the closet, I flung books, and I scared my daughter. She cried. "Mommy, mommy, I'm so SORRY," she sobbed. I yelled something about her being SO NAUGHTY and stormed out of the room to the kitchen, where the Holy Spirit immediately gripped my heart. I prayed and prayed for God to forgive me for yelling at Charis in such a way, but He made it clear to me that I needed to go to her first. I nearly started sobbing myself for the conviction of it.
I went back into the room, and Charis, assuming that I was still out of control with fury, started crying at the sight of me. It broke my heart into a thousand little pieces. Like a small child myself, I crawled into bed with her, wrapped her in my arms, and repented. "Charis," I said, "I need to ask you to forgive me. I was angry, but I wasn't the right kind of angry, and I am so sorry for yelling at you like that."
"Mommy, I'm so so SORRY for getting out of bed!"
"I forgive you, baby girl. Will you forgive me for yelling at you like that?"
"Yes, mama, but will you lay down with me for a minute?" And I did. I laid with her for several minutes, in fact, until both of us had calmed down. And then I begged her not to get up again--which she didn't--and left the room.
Later that evening, we were tucking the kids into bed. I bent down low over Charis' bed and hugged her. "Charis, will you please forgive me for being so angry today?" I asked.
Charis looked at me as if I was crazy. "Mommy, I already DID!"
I am nearly in tears as I write this (though, thankfully, that dumb bear dream is gone for good), because if that isn't the perfect image of God's forgiveness, I don't know what is. So often, I beat myself up about a stumble or a shortcoming, or worse, my direct disobedience, and I beg forgiveness from God over and over, somehow thinking that He hasn't granted it yet. Like the incident with Charis, I carry those horrible images of my failures and faults around with me and they play on a more or less continuous loop, and I am convinced that I am the worst parent/friend/Christian there ever was, totally unworthy of forgiveness.
But when I ask for the umpteenth time, here's the truth: He has already forgiven. Can't you just picture Him saying, "I already DID!"? I usually can't. But today, when my sweet girl forgave me for being such a mess of a mother, I did. I saw that His Son's blood has paid for my sins, once for all, so that when I ask forgiveness, it is granted. Covered. Wiped away.
I can't say that I'm thankful to have lost my temper so completely today. But I can say that I am thankful that my daughter was able to be the mature adult that I was incapable of being, and in the process teach me a lot about God.