Not a very original title, I must admit, but it's so very, very true.
God continually shows me what true love looks like through my children. If I ever wind up being half as mature spiritually as they are, I'll be blessed indeed.
Tonight was no exception.
It started off with Thomas getting a toy this afternoon. He had wanted this particular toy for awhile, and asked Daddy to get it for him (with the understanding, of course, that he would pay for it out of his allowance). He was very excited to get it, and played with it all afternoon long.
Evening came and Grace, being the 3-year old that she is, found the toy and started playing with it. I wasn't paying much attention at the time -- I was nursing the baby -- but it vaguely registered that she was very intent on figuring out how it worked.
Flash forward to 30 minutes later -- Thomas comes running down the hallway, sobbing that Grace had broken his toy. A quick check showed that yes, the inner ball was broken. The lights still worked, but it was definitely broken. The toy that he had been talking about getting... and had finally gotten... was already on the fritz.
I blew it.
"Grace! How could you? Why would you go and break Thomas' new toy? Why?"
Her little face crumpled and she whimpered a sad, "I don't know..."
I couldn't let it go. She, being a normal 3-year old, does get into her older siblings' things and yes, often messes them up. I was frustrated and continued to question her, wanting to make darn sure that she felt really, REALLY bad about what she did. She made her way back into her room and just cried and cried. I told her that she had to use some of the money in her piggybank to replace the toy she broke.
I'll admit an even worse thing: I was totally unmoved. I allowed the frustrations of the day, coupled with the fact that she had bugged the heck out of me today, to keep me from showing any pity. If you want a perfect example of Pharisaical "righteousness," look no further than right here. I was all judgment and no mercy.
And then Thomas came into her room.
He put his hand on her back and gently shushed her.
"Grace? Grace? Listen... I'm not sure you broke it after all. I was thinking about it, and it's possible that *I* broke it... shhhhh... it's OK... I can still use it, and like I said, I think I might have broken it when I was playing with it last. And even if you did break it, I know you didn't mean it, and I don't want you to have to pay for a new one."
Can you guess who felt an inch tall after this?
The compassion and mercy that my SEVEN-YEAR OLD showed for his sister shamed me to no end. *I* am supposed to be the loving, nurturing one that everyone turns to, and instead I was angry and unyielding, demanding that she be "thrown in jail until she pays back what she owes."
How many times have I been shown mercy?
Why is it so hard for me to extend that same mercy and grace to others? Especially those in my own family?
Oh Lord, help me to be more like my children when I finally grow up.