In the car one day, I overheard my son, J.R. (6), say to his older brother: “My heart always hurts SO MUCH until I say I’m sorry when I need to.”
The doctor asked my friend’s father, in his dying days, if there was anything he could do to make these days more comfortable. The elderly man replied, “Do you have anything that takes away a guilty conscience?”
My 14-year-old emerged from his bedroom one morning, and the first words he uttered to me were, “Mom, I’m sorry.” When I asked why, he explained, “Last night, when you said I could read until 10:00, I actually read until 10:08, because it was the end of the chapter. I am sorry.”
I must confess that as he told me, I LAUGHED inside. Ha! Do you know what most teenagers are into these days? Do you know what I did when I was 14? (OK, Really, it was ALL my brother!) My son is not perfect, believe me, but “sorry because I stayed up reading”? Really? Is that an offense in the Brady house? Oh sinner! Haha! Next, are you going to over-indulge on vegetables? LOL!!!
By the grace of God (seriously!) I did not laugh, but told him he was forgiven, and then I entered into that deep thought in which we moms get lost:
I should tell him: He is acting like a geek, a nerd. This could be painful in front of peers. They could tease him. He needs to know that 10:08 is close enough. I mean, it didn’t even inconvenience me.
I then realized that I had somehow changed standards. It was as though I thought “10:08” didn’t need an apology, because
- It didn’t inconvenience me.
- It wasn’t bad compared to his peers.
- There was some good in it. (After all, he was reading, not checking bad websites.)
- He didn’t get caught.
But in the Brady home, honesty isn’t the best way, it’s the only way. So in our Guidebook, it
says that even 10:08 requires an apology. According to Paul David Tripp in The Age of Opportunity, our goal as parents of teenagers isn’t to build fences in which our kids stay, but to teach principles that they will use to guide creation of their own fences in life. God provided “fences” in the Ten Commandments which are amazing at protecting us. I thank God that my son had his own fences, from Exodus Chapter 20, and not the ones I almost botched with my less-than-Godly standard.
It seems to me that the embezzlement of millions which puts people in jail begins with stretching truth about a few pennies. The extramarital affair that tears apart a family starts with one small thought. We judge those who get caught, while we overlook our own offenses as minimal, because we were “close enough.” The Judge above sees it differently. When my eldest’s conscience is wise enough to discern the difference between 10:00 and 10:08 and seek forgiveness for disobeying his mother, he deserves applause. His mom’s thoughts? She is asking forgiveness while she types! And she’s praying that God will reveal all of the “10:08’s” in her own life, so she can eliminate them. If we can hold an honest standard for ourselves and emulate that for our kids, maybe we’d have less embezzlement and extramarital affairs and more men and women deserving, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”
I have heard it said, “There is no softer pillow than a clear conscience,” and there’s no clear conscience without admitting wrong- and asking forgiveness (Acts 3:19). My 6-yr-old as well as the elderly man in the examples above knew it. Maybe we each know it deep down- that the little things do matter in the really BIG picture (Heb 10:16-17).
Acts 3:19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,
Hebrews 10:16-17 “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time,” says the Lord. “I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”
P.S. Let’s say a prayer for Casey now, because we know how attacks come to those who represent God, especially when light has been shed on the behavior.