Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Advice for the President, a Wii and Fazoli's Pizza
Jeannette was out of town for a week, visiting her mother in Oregon along with MelodyJoy. The boys were stuck at home with me and, for the most part, it went very well. The day before Jeannette was to return, though, Jameson and I had a major problem. Without going into too much detail, he did not want to do a particular homework assignment . . . he hates essays . . . this one was to be a letter of advice to the president of the United States.
I gave him about fifteen ideas (yes, seriously) to help him get started. None of them involved lowering gas prices. I took away his computer privileges for the next day. I gave him some time. I took away his Wii privileges for the next day. I offered to start the essay myself, writing part of the first sentence to get him started. I packed up his precious Lego blocks, all 44,532 of them. Finally, I just let him go to bed, but I told him that if he cranked the essay out before breakfast the next morning, I'd reconsider taking away all three of these favorite activities. I wanted so badly for him to just get this thing done and get back on track.
The next morning, I reminded him about the essay but by the time I left for work he hadn't touched it. To make a long story only semi-long, when I came home from work, I learned that he finished the essay during recess and turned it in late. However, he was not interested in telling me what the essay said, which led me to conclude it probably was not his best work. He was, however, interested in finding out which privilege he was getting back. Um, no . . . that was not our deal. Oh my! You would have thought that I'd just sentenced him to five years at hard labor! The mourning went on so long that I finally told him that I was going to make him a PB&J for dinner while the rest of us went to Fazoli's.
Up the stairs he went. From outside his closed door, I could hear him cursing me up and down. Okay, he didn't curse but if he knew how to, he would have. He was so mad! I tried not to laugh. Finally, when I heard noises that I thought might be either destructive or painful, I went in. "Pretty mad, huh?"
Jameson settled right down. I put my arm around him. After a minute or two, he said he was sorry for his behavior and that the essay probably was "kind of mediocre really." I told him he could come with us to Fazoli's, but the Legos, computer and Wii would remain in time-out for the day, and he accepted that.
Jameson was, quite honestly, horrible throughout the episode. He was disobedient, rude, rebellious. He would not listen to any of the options I presented, and I was working very hard to be flexible with him. Yet I was so anxious to forgive him. The minute he expressed some remorse, some change of attitude, I immediately forgave him and rewarded him in some small way.
So what's the point of this story? Today in chapel at TUFW--a chapel service that, by the way, may have been the most powerful one of all the college chapels I've attended since 1978--we were worshipping and I reflected on this whole affair. And it occurred to me that this is how our Heavenly Father feels toward us. He is so eager for us to come to Him that when we turn our backs on our sin and stubbornness, He immediately welcomes us and forgives us. He doesn't hold it over our heads. There may still be consequences . . . we may not get our Wii back . . . but we have His forgiveness. It convicted me about my own reluctance to seek forgiveness from God and I realized how much it pains Him to wait for me to come around, and how happy He probably is when this prodigal child of His does finally figure things out.