Disclaimer: Yucky feelings that challenging parenting moments dredge up are more about my baggage and less about my kid. Every honest parent has such moments.
Amy’s hammer is a joke; she doesn’t really wield that kind of power, nor is she some cold-blooded monster. Sometimes I feel as small and vulnerable as if she did and was. Art can be a good tool in metabolizing those yucky feelings and finding a path to reconnection with Amy. Here’s the sketches from my journal last night that started the hammer image.
Amy’s not demonstrative about whatever remorse she may feel — sometimes it is tempting to think she feels nothing at all about the ways her words and actions can hurt or provoke other people. During a stay-listening session this afternoon, though, I got a glimpse of just how deeply she may indeed feel that remorse. I was assuring her she would have a good day, and she was denying it and crying, and I started kissing her arm — she cried harder and said, “I don’t deserve a kiss.” She has such strong feelings in general, that I shouldn’t be surprised that painful feelings like remorse might overwhelm her to the point that she uses defensive laughing and impulsive rudeness to keep it at a safe distance.
Even if I didn’t get that valuable glimpse, though, it’s so important to remind myself that it is not my job and not in my power to make anyone feel remorse. That means it’s not fair to withdraw and disconnect, waiting until she shows the remorse before reconnecting. God loved me before I showed any hint of repentance, and still loves me at my coldest moments; the more I understand that, the more I can love others that way.
Now — on to the sermon.
The current sermon series is about choices. Today was about choosing God’s forgiveness. The first text was Deuteronomy 30:1-20. One thing that’s interesting in this passage is that God tells Israel that the commandment he is giving them is not difficult — he goes on to talk about it not being out of reach, far away, impossible to grasp, but the word is near. These are clues that the “difficult” bit is not regarding the possibility of perfectly obeying the commandments, but is about the possibility of understanding the commandments. God isn’t making us guess — he tells us what he expects and what will provide for and protect us best. He isn’t asking us to do anything weird or outrageous, but only what is in line with our own God-given consciences. (For now, let’s stick with the ten, not any more obscure laws elsewhere in Scripture.)
The second text was the story of the paralytic whose friends lowered him through a hole in a roof so that he could get to Jesus. Instead of immediately healing his paralysis, or even asking him what he wants Jesus to do for him, Jesus declares that his sins are forgiven. And THEN heals his paralysis, telling him to get up and walk.
I’m not sure I would have chosen this passage for a sermon on choosing forgiveness — this fellow was given it without asking or choosing — out loud, at least.
Still thinking a lot about unconditional parenting, both sermon texts got me thinking about other verses about how forgiveness received leads — or should lead — to forgiveness given. And as it is received without anyone meriting it, so it can be given regardless of merit.
Scott was talking about how, for many folks, Jesus’ claim to be the only way to heaven is offensive. It brought to mind the old song, although I remembered the verse about the woman at the well instead of the one about the blind man.
One of the closing songs begins, “Bless the Lord, O my soul — O my soul!” The Psalmists often addressed themselves in this way, reminding themselves of what they knew to be true, a good solace. I kept trying for a doodle of someone looking down at their heart, hands parting the robe, in a “sacred heart” sort of image, and it wasn’t working; next best was a yoga pose.
For good measure, here are a couple more from my journal — these are from late May.