There was lots of fun stuff happening, and I was loving every single minute of it, except when I looked at Rebekah’s tight, sad, face. I gave her hugs, I asked her if she was OK, I mentioned it to John (husband/dad), and I queried her siblings, “Do you know what’s bothering Rebekah?” I gave her more hugs (she seemed to want lots of them) and finally, I prayed.
Rebekah is a writer, and we’ve had an ongoing issue about her using up school, chore, family and personal time on the computer–not writing, but looking up and reading about the somewhat ridiculous antics of various celebrities. Recently when I asked her if she was writing she fibbed to me about it. I don’t mind lies as much as I mind a child acting like I am the village idiot. “Shut the laptop,” I instructed firmly. “Do NOT get back on there until I say so. You can write in longhand on your legal pads for now.”
And I went about the business at hand: celebrating: Hannah was born on my and John’s anniversary and this year was, as all years, a celebration of the unmerited, beyond-all-I-could-ever-ask-or-think-or-imagine LOVE of Jesus. Still, I noted and pondered and watched the expressive and beautiful face of Rebekah.
Hannah had her birthday date with John, John and I had our anniversary date, we celebrated both with a steak dinner and birthday/anniversary party, I went on my Hannah date, and finally, last night about midnight, Hannah, John and Seth were off to bed, and Rebekah found her way to a bit of quiet with me.
“Mom,” she said, “I got on YouTube today. And yesterday. And the day before.”
“Why?” I said a bit sharply, reluctantly looking up from watching Creflo Dollar teaching about what the Bible says about speaking in tongues (very interesting stuff).
She looked utterly miserable and I was filled with compassion. I scooted over on the couch and told her to come curl up next to me. I took her in my arms and kissed her head. “Rebekah, God forgives me absolutely when I make a mistake, and I forgive you absolutely.”
She began to cry, and I recognized that look, the sound of those sobs: I try and I try and I just can’t seem to do what I say I will do. I’m such a loser, blah, blah, blah.
“It’s OK, Sweetheart,” I told her. “Tomorrow we will talk and pray and make a plan about exactly what you want to be learning and doing and enjoying. I want to see you practicing your violin. Do you want that?”
She began to cry again. “I don’t know why I haven’t been doing that.” Back to the self-chastisement, the recriminations and condemnation.
I was inspired as I thought of the “roaring success” of breakfast (cooked by her and her brother, Seth, while Hannah and I were gone). “There’s no reason you and I can’t cook more together (she loves doing things with me). We’ll put that on our petition of things we want to learn and do. Now, you just don’t worry about anything at all. We’ll work everything out tomorrow.”
She was still curled up next to me, in my arms. She sat up. “I feel better now.”
I did a few things right: I paid attention to my child, amidst all kinds of diverting activities; I responded correctly to all those hug requests; I shared my concerns with other family members, so that everyone would be kind, aware that “something’s bothering Rebekah”; I made myself available; I listened and suggested solutions, and she listened to me, because of the most important thing of all: I said, GOD FORGIVES YOU ABSOLUTELY AND I FORGIVE YOU ABSOLUTELY.
The Bible tells us that it’s His kindness that leads to repentance. In receiving His kindness, we are able to extend kindness to our children and to our mates, and to ourselves. Let’s do it! Amen.