So my son gave me some insight today.
To lay the foundation, he had been struggling with some behaviors & making choices that resulted in me telling him he wouldn't get to go with family friends to an arcade this afternoon. This was heartbreaking because he loves the friends and loves arcade games.
We had the normal efforts at good behavior in attempts to change the decision, the apologies, the last ditch efforts to impress me... but as I sent Julia along to stay with our friends and Eli had to stay with me, it slowly sunk in that he really might not go. This led to anger, crying, etc. etc. We had a number of discussions all morning about the behavior, and he was quite aware of his struggles, so it wasn't unexpected to him, but upsetting, still.
I talked to Eli about the problem with apologies being just for the moment... just to get something you wanted. We talked about doing the right thing for the right reason = because it's right. If you were at Memorial this morning, you will remember the video shown depicting Jesus' trial and crucificion. We also talked about that.
We had already talked alot today about the scene from that movie. But it was funny, because all my lectures and discussions from this day and previous days suddenly took on a new meaning to him in light of that scene.
Me : "Eli, do you remember that scene this morning of what all those people did to Jesus?"
Eli (Still teary and sad) : "Yes."
Me: "In all that you have read of Jesus, can you think of anything He ever did to deserve that kind of treatment?"
Me: "That's right. Because He never did. But we have. And He did what He did so that we wouldn't have to recieve such treatment for our wrongs - He took the punishments He didn't deserve so that we would never have to take the ones we did deserve. (There was a long pause as he listened and I tried to formulate my thoughts here...)
Eli... that's why we do what's right. Because of what He did that day. Not because if we do the right thing we'll get to go to an arcade with friends. Not because we might have more people like us if we do. Not even because Mom and Dad tell you to do it. We do it because we love Jesus and what he did that day for us so much.
At this point Eli hugged me, and I hugged him.
And then I whispered in his ear that he could go with his friends to the arcade.
Much to my surprise, he began crying again, harder than he had been up to that point. He said in his teary voice... "Mom, I don't deserve to go."
I quietly responded, "You're right. You don't deserve at all to go, today. But this is what grace is."
Eli then said, even more remorsefully, "I don't want grace. I don't want to hurt you."
I hugged him tightly, and said " I sure understand that. But that's why we love grace."
He was smiling and packing up to go in the next few minutes.... and exceptionally sensitive as he left.
What got me about this conversation is that he voiced at 7 what I still struggle with at times at 32. I've said before that I am a recovering perfectionist. (Not that I was ever that good at being one.) I think I have come along way... but I know exactly how he feels.
Someone once described mercy as not getting what you deserve, and grace meaning that you get something you never deserved. Mercy always seemed a little easier to give and recieve. Grace, by comparison, never makes sense.
The trouble with grace is that you can't really accept it without accepting a lot of truths about yourself. And we spend a good bit of our lives trying to protect ourselves from those truths.
Grace makes us acknowledge what we don't have a right too.
Grace makes us acknowledge what we haven't earned.
Grace makes us admit what we can never live up to.
Grace makes us uncomfortable.
And if we can get over ourselves enough to get past all of that, grace becomes not that which we are uncomfortable with .... but that which we are desperate for and passionate about.
It's sad to admit that there was a time when I scoffed at grace in my heart. I was trying to do everything right - and figured everyone else should too. And if we were giving it our best... we wouldn't really need grace. Grace was for lazy people. But I lied to myself the whole time.
What I realize about grace is what Paul said all along... it doesn't cause us to sin more...if we let it, it frees us to admit what we always knew about ourselves but felt we couldn't let anyone else know. It allows us to live in HIS victory... it frees us from the ups and downs of our own inconsistency. This doesn't cause us to sin more... but fills us with joy and freedom that becomes a bigger motivator in despising sin than our fear ever did.
And as I still journey to understand the depths of that concept... so my son begins.
Thank you, God... for your Grace that is Jesus.