I have three children. Sometimes our home feels like The Story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. One child always seems too big, one seems too small, and one is just right. In our house there is one kid who is usually rebellious, one who is sometimes rebellious, and one who always does the right thing. Even if he does the wrong thing, it seems to be in an effort to do the right thing; hence his reputation as “The Good One.”
Last week I was thrown from my high horse. My vision of my angelic child was shattered. Indeed, he is not perfect. I caught him in a lie. A big fat lie. A lie he repeated over and over again for a month. Lest we all get too excited, the lie was about wearing retainers nightly even though they were actually lost at summer camp.
Our September orthodontist appointment was hours away. With the reality of being exposed looming, he crumbled under the pressure and confessed that the retainers were missing since July.
I pulled out my best parenting moves. I was calm and explained that I understand that people lose things, but that we had invested a great deal of time and money on orthodontic work, and it was in everyone’s best interested that we just come clean to the orthodontist and get new ones made. Everything’s fine, right?
Wrong. The NEXT night, he dropped lie number two. I felt the earth tilt slightly off its axis. My husband was out of town, and it was a stressful time as I was just trying to get into a new back-to-school routine in a new town. Now “The Good One” was lying to me, again?
I called him out. He was lying to my face, and I knew it! With real tears in his eyes, he looked up at me and said, “I’m so sorry. I don’t know why I keep doing this. I’ll never lie again.” I looked him square in the eye and said, “Yes, you will. We are human, and we all make mistakes.” Then the real knife to the heart was, “Mom, please forgive me.” As if not forgiving him was ever an option.
I’m not one who always sees the spiritual in everyday moments, but if this doesn’t scream the teachings of Jesus, I don’t know what does.
As I looked at my son, I identified so much with his pain. I had more empathy for him in that moment then he could ever know. I often feel such guilt for where I have fallen short or made mistakes. I question why anyone would even like me, much less love me. However, the teachings of Jesus are not ambiguous about forgiveness. Ask and you shall be forgiven. You are a child of God. Just like I know my teenager will stumble and fall again, God already knows I’m not perfect, and I will continue to make mistakes as well.
My son and I talked some more. I offered him an opportunity to come clean on anything else. (There were no more lies, Halleluiah!) He seemed relieved, even happy to be honest and to have me affirm that I forgive him, I still love him, and I will always love him--no matter what.
I cannot begin to fully comprehend God’s love, but parental love is a pretty good start. << Click to Tweet
Kathleen Whittam is a mother of three, a doula, and childbirth educator in Lewes, Delaware. She is the owner of Compass Birth.