It wasn’t yet seven o’clock Friday morning and already I’d asked my daughter Anna four times to please keep it quiet. Each time, she’d immediately responded, “Oops! Sorry, Mom!” She meant it. She was sorry. She was just having a difficult time remembering to keep her voice down and her feet from pounding as she scurried about the house. I had awoken desiring a calm, peaceful morning and Anna had greeted her day full of passion and enthusiasm, ready to experience all the day had to offer.
With each reminder, I lost a little more patience with my daughter’s exuberance. Each time I acknowledged her apology, my forgiveness came a little slower, a little harder. By the fourth time, my acceptance of her apology followed a deep, frustrated sigh. Outwardly, I quietly, calmly acknowledged my daughter, but inside I shouted, “Dear God, when will she learn? How many times am I going to have to remind her? This child of mine desperately needs to learn some self control!”
“Oh!” I thought, suddenly surprised. “This isn’t just about my daughter, is it, Lord? It’s about me too, about my lack of self control – about all the times I still grumble under my breath and lose my patience, about the times I still expect things from others that only You can provide, about all the times I fail to listen, forget to pray, and refuse to apologize first, even when I know it’s what You desire from me. It’s about how often I still hesitate to do the right thing, the hard thing, the humble thing, even as You patiently, gently remind me again and again – even as You forgive me each time I fail, wiping the slate clean and allowing me to start fresh, begin anew.
“Oh, God, how can I possibly want to do less for my child – my enthusiastic, energetic determined, persistent child – created in Your image, exactly as You chose? How can I fault my daughter for being who You created her to be, for wanting to squeeze all she can out of Your precious gift of life? Do I really want less for her?
“’Be kind and compassionate to one another,’ says Ephesians 4:32, ‘forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave You.’ Lord, if that’s true – and it absolutely is – if You love Anna as infinitely, passionately, perfectly as You love me, and if You’re consistently patient with me in spite of my shortcomings, then how can I possibly desire to do less for my daughter, Your daughter, entrusted to me for only a season?
“Lord, forgive my impatience and my stingy forgiveness, my unwillingness to bear with my child as she learns and grows. Forgive me for missing Your Hand at work in my life, for missing these poignant lessons clothed in the character of my child, and thank you, Father, for loving me far more than I deserve, for never giving up on me, and for graciously, willingly forgiving me again and again and again. That is truly amazing grace. Amen.”