Have you ever had a day that just seemed to be a perfect one? One of those days where you woke up and birds were chirping your name, the smell of roses in the air… It was all going so well.
Leila returned from a super fun birthday sleepover over joyed and full of life. She and I had a fun couple of hours playing together and laughing as Momma and Matteo had a trip to do some grocery shopping. We all had a great lunch together and then a spontaneous trip to Suzy’s Swirl, a great lil frozen yogurt spot in Gurnee.
The day was really as sweet as the strawberry lemonade sorbetto I had covered with gummy bears. #YUM. Then it all turned on a dime when our little angelita was asked to do a simple chore: clean up your room. It was as if we told Leila that we cancelled her birthday.
She managed to make it through the chore, walking a line of attitude and obedience, but slowly the child was unraveling. It’s funny how our decision to be miserable can be stronger than the circumstance that drove us to the emotion. In the midst of a great day, she decided that 30 minutes of cleaning was enough to take her out. How many of us do that? How often do we in the midst of joy and triumph let our spiritual enemy trade it for anger, misery?
Leila made that choice. I am sure that she never made the decision consciously, but that is how it happens. When we choose to live for pleasing our sin nature moment to moment, eventually we enter into a moment where the line of joy was 10 feet behind us and we find ourselves in the wicked world of selfishness aka misery. I have lived there too long lately and the joy I experienced today truly arrived as a result of intentionally looking for that line and staying on the right side of it.
However, Leila seemed to have taken out an eraser and gone to town on that line this evening. She was to go to another birthday party tonight but it wasn’t seeming like a bright idea as she continued to have an attitude that was increasing from simmer and bordering on boil. In this moment, trying to decide whether or not to give her a spanking, I sent her to her room as I pondered our next move.
Parenting is not easy. As Lariza and I shared glances I sought the Lord for patience and wisdom. A few minutes passed and not feeling as though any wisdom had arrived I felt like I needed to ascend to the locked tower and engage the situation. What do I say? What do I do?
I was at a loss and only knew two things for sure in that moment.
1. I was hurt by her behavior
2. I loved her
So I worked toward expressing those two the best I could. The first hit her hard, I could tell. That is always a good sign. When she gets real worked up, it is hard to get anything across to her. Calm Leila is one that can be reached.
Then I didn’t know what else to do to show her love, but to hold her.
I held her and simply said, “It’s okay. It’s okay.”
It was as if I had just made my 7th lap around the walls of Jericho, because she crumbled into my arms sobbing and sobbing.
I knew that she had reached her breaking point.
This is the point where it all happens. This is the point when the darkness of sin meets the light of God’s love. It either runs and hides or surrenders to the light. Leila had decided she had hidden long enough that afternoon, and she folded.
Then the real conversations began discussing her sinful attitude, behavior and what she thinks God would have her do next. It is a beautiful thing when she says that Jesus wants her to repent.
I wish it had been that easy for me all those years I was running from the truth. Wrapped in God’s embrace for 30 years and never truly repenting, I know the struggle that repentance can be.
I think as I further reflect on the evening, the real hero of the story is that warm embrace.
There is nothing like a warm embrace that you know comes from a Father’s love. I will admit that my struggle with understanding that concept stemmed from difficulty receiving love for my earthly father. It took me a while to understand what a father’s love truly is.
It is powerful.
It sees past your sins.
It breaks through your pain.
It overwhelms your sorrow.
It thaws a cold and hardened heart.
No matter what you’ve done and no matter how far off you are, God is calling you to come into His arms. He wants you to know its okay. And He wants you to get lost in His warm embrace.