I was at the dentist this week and the hygienist asked me about my family. Since we’ve just come through Christmas she wanted to know HOW you buy Christmas gifts for 5 kids. I told her that you have to stop thinking in such a way that you want everything to be fair. A 4-year-old who is totally into play-doh, an Autistic child whose sole passion is a box of markers and a ream of paper, and a 13-year-old into electronics operate in 3 different worlds and their gifts should reflect that. Of course play-doh isn’t as expensive as electronics, but they love the gifts the same because of where they are in life. So we don’t stress about “fair” in our house, but we also don’t play favorites either. We just try to meet the kid where they are and there are seasons where some need more than others. There’s an ebb and flow.
Having said that, there is a little joke going on with me, my husband and our 2 youngest girls. The baby, Bria, is a Mama’s girl and her closest older sister, Haven, is a Daddy’s girl. The other day I was helping Haven do her reading homework. She asked, “Where is Dad? I want him to do it with me.” And I joked, “that’s because he reads half the pages to you and I make you read all of them yourself!”
She said, “No” with a big cheesy grin on her face (like she was guilty as charged), and added, “we have this thing we do when we read and I like it better.” So I joked, “No, it’s because Dad is your favorite.” She laughed at me and said, “Moooooom!” I chuckled and gave her a kiss. Then Bria piped in, “You’re my favorite Mom. You’ll ALWAYS be my favorite!” I laughed at her and told her Haven and I were just joking.
Fast forward a day or two and that wild-child Bria is sassing me like nobody’s business and after correcting a few times I’m down to my last nerve. I tell her to come to dinner and she refuses. Oh. No. She. Didn’t!
Let’s just say she got into big, big, big trouble. She doesn’t get into trouble very often so she was really, really, really upset. AT me.
She came to dinner but she wouldn’t eat. The rest of the family is talking about their day and everything going on. Then I hear Bria’s sweet little voice call to me from across the table, “Mommy?” Ok, here it is. The moment when she says, “I’m sorry.” The moment when she says, “I love you Mommy”.
But what she says is, “Mommy…….Daddy is my favorite”. Oh. My. Goodness! Seriously! This from the girl who I had to pry off my leg when she started K4 a few months ago. This from the girl who cried (and sometimes still does) when I leave her with anyone……for years……..including her Daddy! Yep. That’s the girl.
As I looked into her steel, cold, blue eyes I realized I was looking human nature right in the face. It is exactly like our human nature to try to hurt someone when we have been hurt. To deliver the lowest blow possible.
Think of those who have hurt you. Said unkind things. Cheated you. Cheated on you. Broke your trust. Broke your heart. Been mean.
Now think about all the things you wanted to say or do to them in return. Or maybe did say or do to them. It is human nature to get back at those who hurt us.
And hurt doesn’t just come from the “mean” people of the world. It comes from family…..friends……church members…….co-workers. People we have to see on a regular basis. Maybe we can walk away from the snarky girl at the check out, but it’s hard to walk away from those who are continually in our face. And the hurt they cause can make the anger in us fester. We can find all sorts of ways to justify our anger, our response, our words.
But I’m struck speechless by these simple words of Jesus in Luke 23:34 – Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”
Bria spoke out of hurt and anger at me. But she really didn’t know what she was saying. It was simply her response when hurt. And so my response to her words had to be guarded and not emotional.
Sometimes the things people do and say to us that hurt us…….it’s simply their response to having been hurt themselves by someone or something entirely unrelated to us. We just catch the brunt of their hurt.
When someone hurts us perhaps it’s not even about us at all. Something usually has happened to someone to cause them to be hateful or unkind and you just might be the healing they need, by your Jesus-type-response of “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”
It is human nature to strike back when hurt. But 2 Peter 1:4 tells us that we can do differently. That we can participate in God’s divine nature. May it be so for us as we journey in the strength of God’s grace.
2 Peter 1:4 – “And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.”