It took every ounce of parental patience that I could muster to keep me from yelling at my two-year-old. I literally had to slap both of my hands over my mouth, bite my tongue, and clamp my eyes shut to stop the angry words from hurtling out of my mouth toward her tender little ears. Even now, days later, I can feel the embarrassment begin to burn in my chest as I type these words.
Kristy and I wanted to see if we could trade two vehicles that we still owe money on and buy a new mini-van. So we went and test-drove one. Before you make fun of this, please remember that I have 5 kids; even the largest car is out of the question and mini-vans are easier on gas costs that SUVs. And it wasn’t just any old mini-van. It was a brand new, top of the line 2011 Nissan Quest. Black. Leather seats. Dual rocket launchers. A pedicure station (with paraffin). It was awesome.
Because we are not stupid, we decided to do this without all of our children. But we took Mary Hope with the thought that she would be her normal, calm self. We were wrong. As we began looking around the showroom, MH began acting very “two-ish.” It was like someone had spiked her cuppy with two 5-hour energy drinks. Just for the record, drinking two 5-hour energy drinks does not give you 10 hours worth of energy. It makes you behave like Pauly Shore (circa 1992) on crack. Or more crack. You know what I mean.
She walked all over the show room trying to open door after door and only being successful on the most expensive models. She crawled under tables and climbed over chairs. She ran in and out of the men’s bathroom. She found some matches and set the building on fire. Okay, she didn’t do that last one. What she did do, though, was almost as bad.
After test driving the Quest, we stood outside of it for a few minutes talking with the salesman. As we were speaking with him, a guy I once worked with walked by and I diverted my attention to him for a brief moment. A very brief moment.
Do you know what can happen during a very brief moment? Your daughter can pick up a rock and scratch the side of a brand new van that you don’t own. That is what Mary Hope decided to do. It is also what caused me to go on self-lockdown before hurtful words came out that would have been wasted on a child that would not have understood them anyway.
After I fully calmed down from this incident (roughly 24 hours later), I began pondering grace and forgiveness. I thought about how foolishly and ignorantly I have behaved during the course of my life. I thought about how many times I have put unwanted scratches and dents in the lives of others. And I wondered if God ever had to slap his hands over his mouth, bite his tongue, and clamp his eyes shut to stop the angry words from hurtling out of his mouth toward my semi-tender ears.
I think that the answer is no.
Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens;
and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.
I am aware that God hates sin and that it angers him. But I am also aware that God loves me in spite of the messes I have made. Even during my darkest days, I believe that he looked upon me with kindness and grace; choosing to love me when I was at my most unlovely. Yes, he has had to deal with my sins, but he has done so with mercy that is unexplainable.
This is what is warming my heart today.
My heart wasn’t very warm, though, when the salesman told us that they wouldn’t be able to get the deal done, that we wouldn’t be able to buy the van. As I walked to our vehicle feeling dejected and with my head down, I asked my wife if she was disappointed.
Her reply brought a smile–“No, I didn’t want a van with a big scratch down the side anyway.”
I am a blessed man.
(When was the last time something a child did taught you a lesson about God’s grace? How is your heart being warmed today? Share away!)