The Power of Forgiveness
Motherhood has a strange way of creating monsters. Sometimes out of my children. Mostly out of me. It burns the wick of impatience until self-combustion occurs, taking with it the casualties of the young and innocent.
Later in the evening, I’ll confide in my husband, retelling all the terrible ways I failed as a mother.
“It wasn’t my proudest mommy moment,” I say, recalling the time I restrained my convulsing, hysterical toddler until she was seated and strapped in her car seat. Or when I gave Elizabeth a few extra minutes to “cry it out” during sleep training. Or the time I pretended to pack up, get in the car, and leave Marie at home alone.
She had been arguing, yelling, and whining for no apparent reason. For weeks.
(I’ve discovered that Wit’s End is a wickedly mystical place that can transform even the most reasonable person into a lunatic. And, after being at Wit’s End for nearly a month, I was starting to believe Marie’s terrible outbursts were happening simply to prove she was the Alpha.)
I had clearly become a crazy person.
My hair zigged and zagged in all the wrong ways. The smile on my face had almost permanently been replaced with a scowl. And I could feel my blood pressure pulsing in my skull.
It had taken 45 minutes of war tactics trying to figure out a way to get my toddler in the car. My mind raced with all the things we still had to do. All the things we had such little time to accomplish.
Dinner. Bath. Clean up. Bedtime. Oh, sweet, sweet bedtime.
Defiantly, Marie loitered by the front door as I put her baby sister in the car.
“I want to stay home!” the toddler screamed. “I won’t get in the car!”
The wick inside me burned and withered until…boom.
I’ll teach her to listen, I thought.
“If you’re not going to listen when I say it’s time to get in the car, then Elizabeth and I will go get hamburgers by ourselves. Bye bye!”
I opened the driver’s door and stepped inside.
From a distance, Marie watched as mommy started to leave. To her, it wasn’t pretend. At first, her baby blues squinted in confusion. Then, as she watched my car door slam shut, her face contorted from confusion to fear.
I started the ignition.
Sheer panic. Mommy was abandoning her. She ran to catch up, waving her hands to signal me to stop. Terror welled in her eyes with each step.
My heart sank to my womb and rose to my throat at the same time.
What was I doing?? The only thing I was teaching my daughter was that her mommy would bail.
I opened my car door and she leaped into my open arms.
“I’m sorry, Mommy,” she said, then rubbed her chest with her fist to sign her apology.
“It’s okay, baby. It’s okay.”
I breathed in the smell of her hair, then felt the weight of her body in my arms and truly let it register. There was an entire human clinging to my chest. One who would grow until she was too big for me to lift from the ground. One who, at some point, wouldn’t even want me to.
“Marie look at me,” I said softly. I placed my fist on my chest the way she had done. “I am so, so sorry. I shouldn’t have done that and I will never do that again. Mommy will never, ever leave you. Will you please forgive me?”
She lifted her head and looked at me, her eyes sparkling with pure mercy. “Okay, Mommy.” She smiled. “Now let’s get WHATABURGER!”
I cannot describe how much I loved her right then—how grateful I was to have someone who could see the soot on my soul then run to embrace me despite my dirtiness.
But that’s exactly what God does. I just don’t always gush with love for Him when He wipes the sin from my crimson-stained spirit.
After all, I can’t see God or hear Him cheer wildly for Whataburger (but let’s be real, He totally would). And because of those things, it can be difficult to remember that God forgives me every single day.
He does not overlook my mistakes. Rather, He sees them in all their gory detail.
He watches me pull away from Him in wicked ways, then He runs after me, waving His arms signaling for me to stop. And when I finally open the door to Him, He rushes in to embrace me, despite my dirtiness. He, the perfect and spotless one, sprints straight into my filth just to forgive me.
When was the last time I sprinted to someone simply to forgive them?
Guilt gathers in my throat. The words struggle to to break through. With pleading eyes, I rub my fist against my chest.
“I am so, so sorry,” I choke.
He picks me up—a whole human clinging to His chest—and rubs my back. “It’s okay, baby. It’s okay.”
In that moment, He transforms my gore into His glory.
And somewhere in the depths of my being, I know I will never outgrow His love. Nor will I ever want to.