I had a wonderful time with Connor the other night. We weren’t doing anything exciting, just a late night shopping trip, but we laughed so much that there were people staring at us. He still amazes me, and I’m pretty sure that the pride I have in being his mother will continue to grow. We were talking about the different components of communication (talking, listening & understanding). He cracked several jokes about not “getting it”, but he did. He has a hunger for being taught about life. Not just the abc’s and 123’s, but about how to be a godly man, a honorable husband and a loving father. At 13 years old, he already has a firm foundation that is not easily shaken. As we left the store, he put his arm around me and guided me out the exit instead of the entrance like I was heading for. He shared that his Daddy taught him that what you do in the small stuff when no one is looking is a reflection of your character. I mentioned to him how proud Scott and I are of him and his siblings, and he told me that he and his siblings are proud of us also.
We haven’t hidden the truth from our children. There is evil in this world … there is sin. Our older kids know about our sin. They know the fallout from that sin because they had to experience it with us. They know about condemnation, because they have been the collateral damage. Yet they still love, they still laugh, they still smile, and they still treat others the way they want to be treated even if they don’t receive that in return. Scott and I were cautioned to not be too honest with our kids, to not tell them the ugly truth. We were and still are honest with them regardless of the cautions we received. If we don’t expose sin for how horrible it is, how can the redemption of the sin be celebrated for the amazing gift it is? Sin didn’t “just happen”. Forgiveness didn’t “just happen”. Repentance didn’t “just happen”. And restoration didn’t “just happen”. Each of these circumstances, from sin to restoration, were all a direct result of a choice made. Those choices when centered around self resulted in sin. Those choices centered around Christ resulted in everything good that is available only through our Savior.
So, that leads me to today in Sunday School. Today’s lesson surrounded this crazy thought to go to God in prayer to bless our spouse and to show us where we ourselves are missing the mark. Typical prayers are actually the other way around. “God, bless me and change my spouse.” I have yet to be witness to that prayer being answered. The prayers surrounding how horrible we precieve someone else to be are elevated to our own ears, not to those of our Heavenly Father. This was a difficult lesson for me to learn.
At a time in my life when the offense of my husband, family members and friends was so great, God challenged me with this scripture:
“How many wrongs and sins have I committed? Show me my offense and my sin.” – Job 13:23
I remember thinking “I didn’t do what he did … what they did. I’m the victim of others selfish actions.” God wasn’t prompting me to pity myself, or to even ask for pity from others. He wasn’t giving me permission to cry and feel sorry for myself. He wasn’t telling me to forget or condone anyone else’s actions. He was telling me that I could receive His comfort, His grace and His freedom by first submitting to His correction, by embracing His instruction and walking in obedience to Him. Did you catch that? In order to get the good stuff, I needed to first respond to Him. That doesn’t mean that we don’t freely receive gifts from God. It means that if we want more than a superficial relationship with Him it will require our participation; some of which hurts. Like I said, that was a difficult lesson for me to lean, but it is the one I am most grateful for.
A wise man in Sunday School summed up this idea in a to-the-point and no-frills statement … “Embrace the suck”. When things aren’t going your way in life, in marriage, in parenting, in your job, in anything and everything, embrace it by turning to God and submitting to what He want’s to do in you through the situation, and only after that will you reveive the blessings that are appropriate. Today, instead of praying for someone else to change or for my circumstances to change, I pray again “How many wrongs and sins have I committed? Show me my offense and my sin.”