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Jesus said we should become as little children in order to be admitted into his Kingdom.[1] Do you think his directive included a free pass for unbridled expression regardless of our age? Can you imagine if, as adults, we could speak out exactly how we feel unhindered by boundaries or consequences?  Oh boy, can I think of several people and situations I’d like to give a piece of my transparent mind. The anticipation is already unleashing giddiness inside me; precisely the point of acting like a child. Jesus, you are sooo smart.

When my daughter was six years old, she told me I looked disgusting. The interesting thing about her delivery, however, resided in the aftermath. She landed the punch but then followed the slam with a generous ice pack of remorse, “and I’m sorry about that.” In the poker game of life her approach models the playing of a hand which says I see your flaw and I’ll raise you an apology for, uh, pointing it out.

Maybe instant contrition is a game changer for us moms. I can think of several zingers I swallowed back down in relation to parenting. Look how different the jabs come across with the compunction conjunction:

“Kahrin, your diaper reeks and honestly I don’t feel like changing the nastiness. And I’m sorry about that.”

“Johnny, I know you are hungry but to tell you the truth I’m burned out from cooking, therefore I’m not making you anything to eat right now. And I’m sorry about that.”

“Kyle, reading you the same book for an eighth time in the last hour sounds interesting, but I have to say no because doing so might result in premature baldness for mommy.  And I’m sorry about that.”

The love of a child runs true and deep; no strings attached – much like a dog who remains your loyal companion regardless of how often you take him for a walk or how unfair you are in yelling at him because you are mad at your husband. Kids also assume the same parental love greets them on the other side. My daughter’s insult rolled off her tongue without second thought because kids feel inherently safe being themselves around those who nurture, love, and protect them.  A child’s psyche has not yet been tarnished by the culture shock of humanity’s unforgiving harshness.  But, in my daughters case, her intrepidness was immediately coupled with compassion; a combination foreshadowing a divine principle – Christ’s free gift of grace and mercy.[2]

Jesus doesn’t need to say, “and I’m sorry about that” after shining a mirror on our weaknesses and failures. He raises the bar a notch by telling us, “I’ll love you anyway”[3]; grace and mercy.

Think of the ways His agape love shines forth in our lives:

“Shelby, I see the way you deny me by ignoring opportunities to share the Gospel; I’ll love you anyway.”

“Shelby, I noticed you started your day with both feet on the floor rushing headlong into your schedule completely unaware of my presence; I’ll love you anyway.”

“Shelby, I blessed you by answering your prayer for your children’s safety and  you didn’t take the time to thank me; I’ll love you anyway.”

Christ’s promise to love us anyway equates to mercy, but you may be asking yourself where the grace part of the lesson fits in. God floodlighting our sins, feeble faith, and egregious shortcomings sure doesn’t sound like amazing grace. Neither does your sassy six-year-old expressing her disdain for your appearance. Both sound offensive and poke our pride even if one is pious in nature and the other imbued with innocence. But if we look at why God points out our faults, the same reason we discipline our children – pure love and concern for their well-being – perhaps our hearts will be better able to receive the judgment. And then we can raise the bar another notch and say, “Thank you, Lord, for making me aware of where I am coming up short in loving you and others”; grace and mercy.

I’ve been writing in journals since my children were born as a way to express my feelings and emotions as both wife and mother along with keeping record of my children’s colorful comments and actions. As I sit here crisscross applesauce in my empty nest turning the priceless pages of history, I am amazed at the pearls of wisdom spoken from the mouths of my babes. God knew what He was doing by prompting me to ink the memories. God always knows what He is doing and often we do not. But the glory resides in knowing He loves us anyway.  And although, at least for now, our Lord really isn’t giving us middle-aged folk a free pass for dishing out barbs dipsticked in brutal honesty whenever we see fit, I know the day is coming.  Pretty sure the threshold occurs somewhere around seventy when, as sweet old white hairs, we can say what comes to mind with the only consequence being a few sheepish smirks at our political incorrectness. The same smiles typically give way to an unconditional, accepting statement along the lines of, “How cute that old lady is. She says whatever she wants, but I guess she’s earned it.” Ya think?

When and if the time comes and you are the recipient of my brazen veracity, well…

I’m sorry about that.  Jesus loves me anyway!

In Christ’s Grace & Mercy,

[1] Matthew 18:3 [2] Ephesians 2:8 [3] Romans 8:35

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