A sin occurred in our house last night. Of course, the nasty blight of transgression happens every day (by each of us—a lot by me!) but this was a theft and it needed to be “dealt with.”
Ugh. Not the peaceful morning I was hoping for. “Dealing” with my children’s sin is a stinky job. It saps my energy, brings anxiety, and honestly can be confusing. What’s the best thing to say, how do I make them see what they’ve done wrong? Will they confess and be sorry or will they burn with anger and reject me and the God who calls them?
Knowing the unpleasant task had to be done, my husband and I called the offender into our room and brought the charges. “We know you did this.” That’s pretty much all we said. The child’s expression morphed before our eyes. First it tightened with anger at being accused, then the eyes shifted upwards, as if a perfect excuse would suddenly appear through the ceiling, and then … tears welled and the crying began. “I’m sorry, Mom!” the repentant sinner wailed, “I shouldn’t have done it! It was WRONG!”
We commended our dear one for feeling shame over sin and willingly gave our forgiveness (after delivering the consequences) but our sensitive child held onto the shame like a treasured toy. “I’m terrible. I don’t know why I have to be so stupid. I always do the wrong thing…” and on and on.
Here’s where my confusion came in. I had no clue what to do. The problem wasn’t getting the confession, it was helping our child accept and receive forgiveness.
I’ve felt that way before. Have you? I bemoan how I’m a terrible mom, an unsatisfying wife, a lazy housekeeper, a thoughtless friend …These feelings perhaps ignited from a real sin I committed, but I magnified the guilt, mulling in the mud instead of receiving the cleansing bath of grace found in God’s Word.
And it came to me (and not through the ceiling)—the answer lay in Scripture. So I quoted the first one that came to mind. “The Lord is my shepherd.” Ah, perfect. No matter my sin, if I trust in Christ, he is my tender shepherd who loves me. What a picture of restoration. I told my child, who was still reveling in the shame game, to repeat the words aloud. As "The Lord is my shepherd" was said, his shoulders relaxed.
“Keep saying it, sweetie.” And, walking out of my room, although still upset, I could see the peace of God calming and comforting.
Reasoning, propping up self-esteem, even expressing our love and forgiveness only seemed to feed the cycle. My husband's and my words weren’t believed so it didn’t matter what we said to this child. To get out of the whirlpool, it took the stability of God’s love as shown through the precious words of Scripture. He needed the Gospel.