Mercy and a Nissan Quest

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.
Psalm 36:5

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!)


27 thoughts on “Mercy and a Nissan Quest

  1. Wow I don’t know what I would have done in your situation. Good job holding your tongue!

    I love being reminded that God looked at me and didn’t see anything great and still saved me. I know how unworthy I am and it makes me more grateful for salvation.

  2. You have more patience than me. I would have punted her. Okay, maybe not.

    I love when we can take these kinds of situations and put ourselves in God’s place. Puts a whole new meaning on grace and forgiveness.

    And your wife sounds awesome.

  3. You have an awesome wife. Good response to the events. Talk about perspective.

    Children teach us life lessons. Many times, we are exactly like them, just the more “mature” version, but just like them.

    My children always teach me that by nature we are adventurous, but sometimes, we break the rules. Thing is, that when we punish our children for this, it is a reminder to us that we do the same with God. Ouch! But his grace is so overwhelming that we get to wake up the next day and do it again! 🙂

  4. Matt, what’s really sad is that I didn’t so much as blink at your reference to buying a mini-van. I have 3 small kids and we are right there. It is becoming a must, though when I see you have 5, I REALLY don’t know how you do it.

    My kids have done some really crazy things like that, but then I stop and realize all the stupid things I’ve done throughout my life. To some degree, I’m amazed I’m not dead, or at the very least, homeless. Great reminder to stop and think before jumping to angry conclusions. You’re right, she wouldn’t have understood anyway. She would have just been, “Daddy’s mad today.”

    (But I’m embarrassed to say I have crossed the anger line with mine before.. It’s not pretty. And I’m the one who’s most hurt by it..)

  5. Yelled at my daughter last night for trying to pull the same stunt she almost always does: I get her situated in bed, it’s time to read her Bible story, and she makes up an excuse to leave. Um, yay me? Not so much. Way to shepherd her four-year-old heart there, dad!

    Anyway, this has nothing to do with the above, but did you know that adolescent boys can’t really have a serious conversation about Herman Melville?

  6. I love how you describe your daughter as acting very “two-ish”. One of my favorite lessons from church was on a Sunday morning when the kids seemed more wound up than usual and were running around the narthax like crazy. They nearly knocked an elderly gentleman off his feet. He looked up and could literally see him changing his mind about what he was about to say. Suddenly, he smiled and said to me, “Why do kids have to act like kids?” We all laughed. When I’m close to losing it, I remember his wisdom.

    Great story.

  7. I literally gasped out loud when I read the part about the rock. Dang. I would have lost it. But your wife has an excellent point. Who wants a van with a scratch in it?

  8. I also did not hesitate at the thought of a van. We brought a brand new car and the found we were expecting a new baby boy. When he was born we also had a 3 year old and a 21 month old. You want entertainment watch 2 adult try to get 3 carseats in a hyundai elantra. So we have SO been there. Also our 2 are constantly teaching us as did Kaitlyn. Enjoyed the post!

    • Thank you, ma’am 🙂 Until a couple of months ago, we had 4 boosters and 1 carseat in our vehicle. There was a brief period where we had 2 boosters and 2 baby carriers. It was terrible/amazing.

  9. I feel for ya! I have a five year old niece who lived with my family and I until she was four, and we still watch her five days a week. So I’ve been there, done that!

    But how much my sweet baby girl has taught me about God’s love and mercy and grace! Believe it or not, she taught me one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned while she was sick. She was only about two or three at the time, and she was sleeping in my room that night. Unfortunately, she was also pukey that night. She must have puked three or four times-and each time I took another layer off the bed until we were only left with the mattress. I even had to drag that poor, tired, sick little baby and throw her into a cold shower to get her rinsed off in the middle of the night.

    But here’s what got me: she never complained. In fact, she apologized each time she puked! She felt so bad about making a mess, when I knew perfectly well it wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t a peaceful night. I’ve had a lot more pleasant. But my love for her never swayed. No matter how many times she puked and made a mess, it would never change my love for her. And then I got a picture of God and how repulsive our sins must be to Him-like the smell of throw up. But still He loves us. We make messes again and again, yet still He loves us with a Father’s love.

    That was a little longer than I intended, but hopefully it made sense!

  10. Matt, what a story. My heart dropped when you wrote about the rock.
    But in the end, I love it when we’re about to see God’s grace through it all, especially by means of a child’s perspective.
    (those dual rocket launchers would have been nice, though)

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