T-Shirts, Tears and the Kitchen Sink
My kids are awesome. I am blessed beyond measure by my Tiny Treasures. The fullness of capacity they fill in my heart and life humbles me. I know without doubt my children are my greatest area of blessing and how they are turning out as they grow takes my breath away. Amazing little champions that are; Big Champions of Faith locked inside very young bodies.
Yesterday was Sunday, and like other Sundays, our family headed to church in the morning. I always remind my middle-school aged boys that they need to be clean, hair combed, teeth brushed and wearing presentable clothing. They do well with this, most of the time, but occasionally they slip out of the house without my noticing what they have on. Yesterday was such a day.
We arrived at the church parking lot and were getting out of the car when I noticed one of my boys was wearing jeans (fine with that) but he had on a t-shirt that would clearly fit into my definition of “backyard clothing” or “play clothes”. It was this light blue thing that had been worn A LOT. It looked ok, but it didn’t look very nice. When I caught sight of this, I immediately reacted to the situation. I called his name a told him how unhappy I was with his selection and reminded him of the requirement to dress a little better for church. I don’t expect them to get all dressed up, but they need to make their best effort. They have their backyard clothes and shoes and then they have their school/going out clothes and shoes. Boys play HARD and get DIRTY so it is an important distinction to make. I don’t recall having to really address it with my daughter.
Anyway, as soon as I spoke to him I could see the wind leave his sails. I had clearly hurt him by my over reaction to the situation. I felt bad because though I needed to address his attire, I did it in a less than stellar way. My son is very gentle of heart and responds so well to encouragement, as he is an encourager by nature, and he also takes criticism very hard. Because I know this about his heart, it is my job to protect it as he grows so that one day, when he is a grown man, he can have a whole heart, free from childhood trauma. During the worship portion of church I leaned over to him, placed my arm about his neck to pull in close, and I whispered into his ear that I was sorry for over reacting in the parking lot. I told him I could see that I had hurt his feelings and asked if that was true. He nodded in agreement. I then asked him if he would forgive me for I had reacted when I should have responded. He nodded yes.
I think it is so important to be transparent on healthy levels with our children. When we blow it we need to be able to own it and apologize to our kids and ask their forgiveness when necessary. It only strengthen the bond and trust because let’s face it, our kids love us no matter what, but the unity is greater when we can be vulnerable with them. It shows a strength quality they need to have as well and what better way to learn it than by observation. God is so faithful to our willingness to do this, for within two minutes of my apologizing a woman in the row ahead of us dropped her glasses on the floor under and behind her seat. She was six chairs over from my son, so it would have been nothing to not notice. But he did notice, and he got up and went and got them for her. It was so courteous and thoughtful on his part, attributes I see in him regularly. I was given the opportunity to “catch” him doing good and I praised him right there for it. If you could see his sweet face lift in response to my praise… God is good.
When we got home from church I gathered myself to the kitchen to make some breakfast for my family. As they all sat at the little table in the kitchen (rather than the dinning room) I stood at the kitchen sink cleaning up the mess. We all visited together as they ate, but I brought up the situation at church once more for I knew that God had truly given me the opportunity for a “teachable moment”. A moment I call when I can take an experience to help my children understand deeper things that will mature and train their character with practical application. I explained to my son how God loves him no matter what he wears, just and his parents do. I told him that God probably didn’t even care that he wore that old t-shirt to church. In fact, I know he didn’t care. God’s love for him was not determined by his appearance or behavior, for that matter. God loves us to come as we are. Then I expressed that we desire to wear our better clothes to church because we want to honor God. Again, doesn’t mean get all dressed up, but just our best foot forward to show we care enough about meeting with him that we want our best for him.
Do you know that this is how God loves you as well? He really doesn’t care what your wardrobe looks like. He doesn’t care is your hair is a mess or better still, if your life is a mess. He doesn’t want your money or to take away your fun. He isn’t ashamed of your behavior or your past. In fact, he has an ocean in heaven called the Sea of Forgotten. I don’t think the Bible talks about any Sea of Forgotten, that’s my analogy, but He does say he watches over you and he wants to free you from the pain and sting of your past. Many times adults wear their sins and their hang-ups as though they were wearing a ratty old garment. Take it off and allow him to give you a new garment. Fresh. Clean. Light. Forgiven.
I saw a post on facebook this week that said how hard the week was so God must finally be punishing them for being a hypocrite. I replied to them just as I am about to declare to you.
At some point in life we are all hypocrites. God loves you with an everlasting love. That means forever, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer and in sickness and in health. He is betrothed to you like a partner for life and wants to give you Beauty for your Ashes. Hope for your pain and Joy for your tears. Leave the pool of Bitter Waters and join him, casting your cares and past into the Sea of Forgotten.
Come as you are.
"As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." Psalm 103:12