I have so many things that I should be doing right now, things that have nothing to do with being on the computer. But…I have the house all to myself, a nice warm cup of coffee, and a thought swirling around in my head, so here I am.
Forgiveness is such a Lenten topic, you know? It is the subject of so many of the Lenten readings. It is the subject of so many of the homilies and podcasts that I listen to. It is the subject of so many of the devotions that I read. This is not a bad thing. Forgiveness is such a gift. And it can be so, so hard.
For me, I can offer forgiveness. It is probably the sanguine melancholic temperament that I have. I don’t like when people are stressed or upset. It really gets to me. I don’t like discord or confrontation. It unsettles me. So if someone has wronged me and offers an apology, I usually accept it, thankful that the issue is settled. However, I have a really hard time believing the reverse. It is a huge challenge for me to accept that I am forgiven. This is something that I have been working on for a LONG time. I have a difficult time remembering that my value and worth comes only from the fact that I am a child of God. I can’t do anything to make Him love me more, just as I cannot do anything so horrible that God will not forgive me. How? How is that even possible, when we, as human beings, can just really…well… suck.
I think that I may have caught a little glimpse into this the other morning. I was running around, barking orders at the kids to hurry up and get their shoes on and eat their breakfast, brush their teeth, etc. You know, the usual morning routine of controlled chaos. I was in my room making my bed when Jonathan came in crying. I looked at his little face and he was a mess. He was sobbing and tears were just streaming down his cheeks. This wasn’t a normal “I’m-not-getting-my-way-Noah-called-me-a-stupid-buttcheek” kind of cry. No, this was a pitiful, from the depths of his little soul, anguished cry. I am instantly thinking that something horrendous has happened, although what, I had no idea. “What is it? Jonathan, what happened?” I frantically asked him. My heart was breaking for him because he was SO UPSET. He looked at me and just kept saying, “I am sorry Mom. I am really sorry.” I just held him for a minute until I felt his ridgid little body relax against mine. I had already forgiven him. It didn’t matter what he had done, I just wanted him know that it was ok and that I loved him. How could he ever think that he could do something to change that?
Lightbulb moment… Here I am, flawed and imperfect, willing to forgive my son anything. I just want him to know how much I love him. Duh! That is just what God does for us, only so, so much better. If I, lowly human that I am, can forgive my son for I don’t even know what, how much greater is God’s ability to forgive us? His is the only truly unconditional love that there is. The heartbreak that I felt at Jonathan’s fear that he could do something, well, anything that could make me not love him, is NOTHING compared to the sorrow that God must feel when we pull away from Him. We don’t need to shy away from Him because we are embarrassed by our actions. He has already forgiven us! (And newflash, he already knows what you did. It doesn’t matter.) We need only offer to him our failings and our weaknesses and alllow Him to transform them. Allow Him to offer you forgiveness and just accept it.
You might be wondering what it actually was that had Jonathan so upset. Or maybe not, but I will tell you anyway. He was trying to be a “big boy” and made his own breakfast. He managed to get a bowl and pour the cereal and milk without any problems. But when he tried to put the, almost full, gallon of milk back onto the top shelf of the refrigerator, it slipped out of his hands. It dropped to to floor spilling everywhere and making a pretty big mess. I just chuckled as he helped me clean it up. “Are you really mad, mom?” He asked me. I smiled and said, “Nope. No sense crying over spilled milk.”