The task was simple: clean up the playroom. I, in my office adjacent to the playroom, was overhearing Jackson and Lindy work on this task and it was not going well. Lindy, of course, was being perfectly patient with Jackson but he was speaking biligerantly to her. Though I usually let Lindy handle everything (she is, afterall, very good at it), I had to intervene upon hearing such disrespect of his elder.
Up to his room for a timeout, he sat on his bed with these words from me in his ears: "You are in a time out because you were treating Lindy so unkindly. You may not treat people unkindly. When you are ready to treat her with kindness (and apologize!), and when you are ready to clean with a cheerful heart, you may return to the task of cleaning the playroom."
A good number of minutes later, I went back to finish what I started with him. He informed me that he was ready to move on. But he said these words that made me thankful, so thankful, that I intervened: "Yes, I am ready (to treat Lindy kindly and clean with a cheerful heart), but my heart is still black."
So upon HIS prompting, we were praying together for his sins to be forgiven. A real repentance, from my view. And then answering his next question actually brought tears to my eyes, "But what if my heart is ALWAYS black?" Oh, sweet child. That is the beauty of the work of the cross. "That is the best part, Jackson. Our hearts need never stay black. God will ALWAYS forgive us when we ask. THAT'S why Jesus died on the cross for you. We can go to him whenever we need to and ask him to clean our heart and he is GLAD to do it."
"Is God mad?"
"When we sin it makes God's heart very sad. But when we ask him to forgive us, it makes him very, very glad." He wants to forgive you! You just need to ask!
Just yesterday I was reading this post on Angie's blog about her "difficult child" (if you have one of these, I encourage you to read her post. It is so encouraging). This was the comment I left on that blog:
It is discouraging to see little progress in areas all the other children moved past quickly. But how right you are: these (difficult children) are the children who will be leaders, who will be passionate, who will do great things (our other children will do great things, too, of course). But these little guys do need a totally different kind of parenting, don't they!!!
I know the the Lord will do a great work of grace in this child's life. He will understand grace better than your other children. While our other children who are "followers of all rules and laws" struggle with pride and even understanding what the significance of the work of the cross is to them (since they rarely do the wrong thing), these passionate children of ours will have a stronger grip on this area of faith. And while the process to get there puts trepidation in my bones, I know that God will redeem and bless our efforts to properly, faithfully parent them.
What a wonderful grace God offered me today in seeing a deeper piece on my son's heart, like a glimpse of a promise fulfulled. I pray you encounter some encouragement in your parenting like I did today.