Some days I not only fail slightly at letting grace flow through me, I fail SPECTACULARLY. If you were at the Howard Johnson’s in Lincoln, Nebraska this past weekend you probably witnessed my spectacular failure. Yes, I was that mother screaming at her children from behind the closed doors of room 111. I was also that woman snapping at her children at the wedding reception to stop squirming because every time they squirmed they threatened to bring the entire tablecloth (candle, glasses and all) crashing to the floor. It really wasn’t their fault, small children and long tablecloths are two things that should never be mixed.
By the end of the weekend I felt like the world’s worst parent. I had no intention of screaming at my children, they were stuck in a situation that I’m sure they liked no better than I did. But no matter what my intentions were, I lost it. I screamed at them and in my frustration I said things to them that I promised myself I would never, ever, ever say as a parent.
What do you do when you fail so spectacularly, when you go waltzing off on the wrong path even though you know that danger lies that way?
Believe it or not, the Bible is full of people who failed in some pretty big ways. Look at King David. He saw Bathsheba bathing on the roof, slept with her even though she was already married and then when a surprise pregnancy occurred, he had the woman’s husband killed to cover up his spectacular failure. But when confronted with the fact that he had failed, he confessed his sin and repented. He couldn’t go back and make it right, he couldn’t bring Bathsheba’s husband back to life and he couldn’t undo the fact the he slept with her. All he could do was repent.
And in the end, that’s what I have to do when I fail so spectacularly to show grace to my children. I repent. I will always tell them I am sorry when I know I have blown it, I think children need to hear it from us. I don’t make excuses, I just apologize, and if I can I try to make amends in ways that fit the wrong I originally did.
So if you were in the Howard Johnson’s in Lincoln, Nebraska this weekend and you heard me blow it, I hope you also heard me putting them to bed that night, snuggled between them, telling them how proud I was of them for how well they’d done all day and then singing ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘This Little Light of Mine’ because they wanted songs.
Sometimes the light of grace flickers in our lives. Sometimes it almost goes out. But how amazing that even in our spectacular failures it can always be rekindled.