His eyes downcast as I stood before him with his choice in my hand, catapulted me back to when I was eight, going on nine, years old and I was in the same position he was. I was triggered to engage him the way I had been engaged when I was his age. Yet as I looked down into my hand, I remembered the grace Jesus extended to me in my life over thirteen years ago.
My voice cracked quietly, yet firmly, “Where did this come from, son?”
“Did you ask for it?”, I inquired.
“No, mama. I didn’t.”
Deep breath, Marni. Deep breath.
He’s stolen little things before, but he didn’t know really what he was doing at the time. This time, however, it was evident, he did.
Deep breath, Marni. Deep breath. Remember how you were treated when you stole pens at his age, and do the opposite.
I inhale deeply and then exhale these quiet words, “So what are you going to do about it?”
Ah, yes! Boundaries! Thank you, Lord, for helping me learn boundaries! This is his to handle, and for me to help guide him to the right place.
“I should bring it back and apologize.”
I nod softly as I clutch the soft pink eraser gently in my hand, letting it serve as a gentle reminder of the forgiving grace, in Christ, of my own depraved soul.
“When do you want to do this?”, I ask.
To which he replied, “As soon as possible, mama.”
Immediately, I reached for my phone and texted our pastor’s wife asking when her husband would be in the office next – informing her of the reason I am inquiring. She gently responded with information I needed, as well as extending grace to my ailing mama’s heart as she celebrated the conviction of his heart to do the right thing.
I breathed deeply as I took the information to my son, and together I explored with him his options to right his error.
He made his decision, and I drove him to go see our pastor; someone he also considers his friend. During the car ride, he confessed that his tummy trembled with nervous butterflies fluttering about, and his mind was consumed with fear of possibly of seeing this friendly face he’s become so accustomed to seeing, turning possibly sour on him.
It ailed him that his friend, his pastor, may see him in a shadowed light.
“I understand your fear, sweetie.”, I respond. “He may look disappointed with you, and that will be a consequence you need to face if he does. So are you ready to face whatever response he has for you?”, I continue.
“Yes, mama. But I feel afraid.”, he added.
“I get that, honey. It’s okay that you feel afraid. This is where you are brave…doing the right thing, even while feeling the fear you do.”, I remind him.
He goes silent the rest of the way until we pull up to the church.
Upon getting out of the car, he begins to bargain and minimize. “Well, at least I didn’t steal a lot of money, mama. That would have been a bigger sin.”
As we enter the doors, I remind him gently, as I drape my arm around his small shoulders, “Remember, sweetie, God doesn’t measure size. A sinful act is a sinful act – no matter how big or small.”
“Oh, that’s right mama.”, he quipped despondently as he hung his head walking down the hallway.
We come to our pastor’s office, and he warmly smiled and welcomed our son into his office. I left him with our pastor to talk one on one with him – man to growing young man.
I could hear the conversation happening across the hall as I spoke with our pastor’s assistant, and not once did I hear his voice elevate – nor did I hear my son buckle down into hot tears like I did when I was his age splayed across the guest bedroom bed hyperventilating because my father had beaten me due to discovering my theft activity.
A sigh of relief came over my soul, reminding me, “I am doing a new thing in your life, and your son’s. I got this.”
The conversation wrapped up, and my son bounded over to me with a huge hug and smile plastered across his face. As I stood, I thanked our friend and pastor, and as my son bounced out of the church office toward our car, I stood with him to discuss the matter in brief with him.
“He gets it, Marni.”, he said reassuringly with a warm smile.
To which I replied, “I believe he does, too.”
He had shared some basic information with our son about the adulterous woman whom Jesus forgave, and I was reminded just how good our God is to forgive something as small and minor as a theft of an eraser all the way to something as grievous of a mistake as adultery.
God’s forgiveness, in Christ Jesus, isn’t restrictive but redeeming.
Tears shed as I spoke with our friend and pastor some more, remembering just how depraved I am and how thankful I am for everything he’s forgiven me for. I’m not worthy – none of us are – but in Christ, we are.
How beautiful grace erases the messes of our lives.
We left with smiles and reminders of his loving grace in all our lives, our son a little more girded up with the truth, and myself reminded of the grace I have in Jesus even in the messes I’ve made in the past, the messes I make today, and the messes I’ll make tomorrow.
All because of Jesus, my mess is erased because of his grace.
All because of Jesus, my son’s mess is erased, as well, because of his grace!
And because of this truth, I walk firmly and steadily even through every triggering memory of where I come from.
Hallelujah! Thank you, Lord! Amen!
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 (ESV)