Thursday, May 7, 2015

My Tween's Attitude and My God's Grace...

My oldest child, Jackson, is apparently a "tween."  I didn't know that was a real thing until recently.  I have always thought of everything before 'being a teenager' as a really fun and sweet stage.  And then I imagine the teen years as being really fun and hormonal. ;)  But apparently there is thing thing called being a "tween" and I didn't realize how Real it was until recently, when my almost 11 year old super sweet, kind, respectful son spoke to me in a tone of voice that, well, let me just say it was a tone of voice that made me want to put him over my knee for a spanking.  If only he were 2. ;)  My eyeballs got big and my heart started racing and it. got. real.  My husband and I both stared at each other, speechless.  We held our tongues and through gritted teeth sent him to his room.  We clearly needed a minute to gather our thoughts (and our jaws off the floor).  For several minutes we prayed and asked God for wisdom.  We wanted to reach his HEART.  We know we can force his behavior.  We know we can tell him that something he did is wrong and give him a consequence.  We know we can force his hand and have him preform how we want him to.  But what good is that in the long term?  We want to reach his heart.

We didn't feel a ton of clarity on what to say, but our hearts were beating at a normal rate again, so we walked into Jackson's room.   We began talking together and Jackson was very defensive.  We explained why his tone matters and why it's not ok.  And then we went on to remind him of who he is.  Jackson is kind.  He is gentle.  He is respectful.  He is loving.  The way he had spoken to me wasn't really "him."  At least not the best version of him.  After a few minutes, Jackson started to cry.   I'll never forget what he said through his tears.  "I know I'm not supposed to talk like that.  And I don't want to talk like that.  But sometimes I feel like I can't control myself."  Eek!  I couldn't contain my excitement.  "Oh Jackson," I said.  "I'm so glad that you feel like that.  I love that you were able to express that to us.   You know why?  Because THIS is how you know that you need a savior.  THIS is how we know we need Jesus.  Because we ALL mess up.  We ALL make mistakes.  And when we know the right thing to do, and we don't do it? That's sin.  And when we acknowledge that we didn't do the right thing, we realize how desperately we need God's grace.  Dad and I need it.  You need it.  And these moments just highlight it.  What a beautiful reminder.  And you know what?  You're right.  You can't control yourself.  But I remember sitting with you when you prayed and asked God to come into your life.  You surrendered your life to Him and His spirit is now with you and in you.  Always.  So although you can't control your tongue, His spirit can!  We are not patient and kind and gentle and have self control by nature.  But God in us helps us to be those things.  And when we mess up, because we all are going to mess up at times, He offers His grace.  I love that you got to experience your need for His help today.  Because daddy and I need it every single day. Welcome to the club."

We talked for awhile more and hugged and then left Jackson in his room.  He was laying on his bed and just needed time to process.  Jon and I went back into our room, cleaning up our closets and folding laundry.  I continued to pray for Jackson - that God would reach his tween heart.  After about 40 minutes, Jackson came into our room with a completely different spirit.  He almost had a spring in his step.  He excitedly said to Jon, "Dad, I was just in my room praying and I felt like God told me that I just need to start over.  That I needed a 'do-over.'  So dad, can I have a do-over?  Can I start today over?"  Jon gave him a huge hug and said, "ABSOLUTELY."  I peeked from around the corner and smiled at him.  "Jackson, you can always have a do-over.  Any time you ask for a 'do-over' the answer will be yes.  Daddy and I need "do overs" all the time.  And because God gives them infinitely to us, we will give them infinitely to you."

Friends, I don't know about you, but I was preaching to myself as much as I was preaching to Jackson.  Do my failures push me down into a pit where I focus on my inadequacies?  Or do they simply highlight my need for a savior and propel me toward worship?  Do they weigh me down?  Or do they compel me toward repentance and ultimately freedom?
Do you need a "do-over"?  Me too.
Need another one in 5 minutes?  God's grace is deep enough, wide enough, high enough.

God, help us to love our babies how you love them.  Help us to reach their hearts.  Help us to heap on the grace.  And when it's needed again?  Give us the extra portions.  Thank you for the grace you lavish on us.  It is extravagant and knows no bounds.  May our failures only propel us toward humility and ultimately toward You.  May we live in the knowledge of Your unconditional love and may we extend that same gift to those whose lives intersect ours.
With hearts bursting full of gratitude,  Amen.