This morning I was kind of upset with my daughter. That doesn’t happen very often. You’ve seen her cute little face, right? It’s nearly impossible to be mad at her for anything whatsoever. This morning had kind of a rough start, though, and when she asked for more food just to throw it on the floor, I wasn’t too happy about it. I left her in her high chair while I cleaned up after her, then I went over to the TV to put something on for her to watch. Now, in my mind my motive was to occupy her with the TV so that she couldn’t make more of a mess while I got ready for the day. My son, however, saw things differently.
As I was putting in a Go, Diego, Go! DVD, my oldest son, who didn’t even seem to be paying attention to what was going on, said, “Daddy, you’re showing grace.” Remember, my motives were not the best, so I wasn’t even sure what he meant at first. I thought maybe he meant by not yelling I was showing grace or something. I asked him to clarify and he explained that even though the little one had made my upset by throwing her food on the floor, I was putting on a show that she liked for her to enjoy. That is his definition of grace – giving something undeserved. To him, not only was I not yelling about the situation, I was giving something good to someone who had done something that could have caused me to act in another way. That’s what he saw, whether or not I had realized that he was watching.
Sometimes I forget that my kids are watching. They seem occupied with something else. And though I know that more discipleship is caught than taught, I honestly don’t always operate with that in mind. My kids hear about grace all the time. It happens when your parents serve in children’s ministry. Grace is a pretty big topic of conversation for our family. I have to wonder after this morning, however, if it’s always displayed. There are times that I’m pretty aware of my need to show grace, but there are certainly times that I get caught up in a moment and I don’t even pause to think about that. What are my kids learning from me in that moment?
They definitely understand the concept of grace and forgiveness. Colin’s teacher told us that he gave a great answer when she asked what the moral of a story was that she had just read to the class. He said the moral of the story was that the girl who had been wronged showed grace to the other girl. I have to admit, even typing that, I start to get a little misty-eyed. He gets it. I need to show it. I need to show it in the times that I feel like it, and I need to even more show it in the times that I don’t. My kids don’t just learn grace by me talking about it. They don’t even just learn it from being on the receiving end of it. They also need to see me show it to others. I can’t expect them to forgive each other and I don’t forgive all of them, all the time, every time.
Living out grace requires saying “I’m sorry” a lot. It requires going against our instincts sometimes to punish harshly. It may even make us feel like justice has been lost. Grace can be counterintuitive. Just look at the Bible! He who knew NO sin became sin so that we could become HIS righteousness?? While we were His enemies, He chose to die for us?? That’s radical grace. It’s been displayed for us and now it’s our turn to show it to others.
I know my kids have their eyes on me and it’s not always going to be comfortable for me to have to live out what I teach them. It’s like a built in accountability system. I love it.