Recently, I decided to take my kids to Disneyland. We have annual passes and live fairly close, so this is a pretty common occurrence in our house. As I was driving along, thinking about how awesome of a mom I am, I was surprised by a policeman standing in the middle of the road, hand outstretched indicating to me to stop. At first I couldn’t figure out what was going on; had something dangerous happened ahead, was he redirecting traffic? As if his hand came through the windshield and slapped me in the face, something hit me: I was speeding. I was really speeding and in a school zone.
I pulled over and received my just punishment. I then texted my husband; I was a bit worried about what he would say. I knew the ticket was going to be expensive, and–let’s just say–it wasn’t my first ticket. My husband’s response? “Don’t let it ruin your day.” He showed me kindness. This act of kindness from my husband reminded me of how God shows me kindness when I don’t deserve it; my heart was softened and I was deeply grateful for my husband and his love for me.
I started again on our journey Disney-ward, and, as I was driving, I started to rehearse all the ways I fail. I thought about past sins and failures that always seem to plague me when I am feeling like a complete idiot. Why didn’t I notice I was in a school zone? Why did I sin against my friend like that? Why do I care so much about what others think? Why wasn’t I kinder to my husband when we were in high school? On, and on the guilt laden memories and questions came, until God broke in. He gently reminded me of what I had learned 30 minutes before: He is kind to me, He forgives me, He loves me, and all my sin (past, present, and future) is paid for through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, His son! What a blessed relief it was to my heart to remember that truth.
Reminding myself of my sin is not the way I change.
Reminding myself of my sin is not the way I change. When I was in reminding-myself mode I felt horrible, depressed, anxious; when I was in remembering what He’s done for me mode I felt light, joyful, and grateful. I thought of how often I remind my children of past failures and expect that it will help them change. I bring up past times of discipline and use this to shame them into repentance. How unlike my Savior am I! (“Wretched man that I am…!”) His kindness leads me to repentance–always.
Jesus Christ took my judgment and my punishment and remembering this fact makes me love Him more. In remembering what He’s done for me and how I am led to repentance, I am caused to look on my children as those who need not my reminding them of their past failures to get them to repent, but as those who need me to remember what was done for me by Jesus, who need my love, need me to forgive and to forget, and need me to say, when they’ve messed up, “Don’t let this ruin your day.”