The following was written by my fantastic wife, Erin Lynn. She is (now) a regular contributor to this blog.
Yesterday I had a battle with my daughter’s will. A minor infraction turned into an hour long process. Kids are terrible at picking their battles. In a nutshell, she responded to a mild correction with a bad attitude and was sent to her room. Several times, my husband and I each went up to her room to try and work it out with her, but she wouldn’t talk. At one point I basically spelled out for her what had happened. Then I asked her if she felt like her outburst was justifiable and she shook her head. I asked her if she felt like it was inappropriate and she nodded. Progress! Then I asked her if she would be willing to repent out-loud to me and to the Lord, but she couldn’t bring herself to verbalize her wrong doing. That’s when I realized her sin was literally separating her from the rest of the family. More than just her initial anger, her pride was now keeping her from repenting and be reconciled with us. And I explained that to her. I told her that while she was alone in her room we were sad because she was not experiencing community with us. I even told her that, like the father from the Bible story of the prodigal son, her dad was sitting down stairs hoping she would return to get a hug and be a part of the family again. How like us with our Father, letting our pride keep us from repentance and reconciliation. Nothing teaches me about our relationship with God like parenting. Nothing.
I know there are probably people who would say I could’ve just let it go and saved all of us the time and drama. I’m sure there are even people who would suggest the best parenting method would have been to ignore it. It’s true that as a parent I have to use wisdom and pick my battles, to know when to confront and when to let things go. Don’t think that I make my kids engage in long, emotional discussions every time they’re cranky. So in the midst of all this I had started to ask myself if this was all really necessary. That got me thinking of the modern skeptic question, “Was Christ’s death on the cross really necessary? Couldn’t God just forgive?” It would’ve been much easier to ignore her behavior. Dealing with it cost me time and emotional energy, the discomfort of confrontation and her potentially negative reaction to my confronting her. The truth is though, sin separates. Maybe not right away, but as she gets older and her attitude gets more blatant and defiant, the rift grows bigger and bigger. Worst case scenario, she becomes an adult and we kind of go our separate ways. God could’ve said something like, “Hey, I know I’ve been nothing but kind and gracious to them and they’ve been nothing but selfish, ungrateful and hurtful to me and my creation; but it’s whatever.” Then we could continue to go our separate ways, for eternity. I’m not going to go into how terrible that what have been for us. But God desires deeper relationship with us than that. I desire deeper relationship with my daughter than that, and it cost me something. So on this day, in this instance, I decided this lesson was worth the cost. So again and again my husband and I returned to her room, kind of like the way again and again God pursues us in his mercy. As I pleaded with her that she would not allow her pride to keep her isolated, it started to sound so familiar… As I assured her that she was already loved and accepted and forgiven, I thought of the love the Father has lavished on me that I should be called his child. When I asked her to please just repent and be reconciled, I was reminded that His kindness leads us to repentance and repentance leads to life.