Our furnace shut off in the night causing the temperature inside the house to drop to an uncomfortable degree. A morning spent trouble shooting revealed an unexpected problem. Four year old hands had stuffed stones and gravel into the furnace exhaust pipe. Stones that could neither be dumped nor removed.
Was I angry? You bet! I had a good idea which mischievous boys under my care had been playing in the stones and they had been warned multiple times not to touch or play with those pipes.
Thankfully God interrupted my internal rant. As a mother, every moment of every day I am teaching. Whether I recognize it or not, act purposefully or not, choose wise words or not, I am teaching.
What does this moment teach? About life? About God? About forgiveness?
A 4-year-old boy will never tell an angry adult the truth. Anger breeds fear and he will lie to protect himself. Feigning calmness to turn on him afterwards breeds distrust.
It took about 45 minutes for me to ask the question with a proper heart. The boys were honest, repentant, and sad they caused so much damage. They understood this was big and they didn’t need me to raise my voice or shake my finger to drive that point home.
A call the furnace company further revealed the repair cost. Yikes!
More deep breaths.
What did they boys learn in this moment? Hopefully more than just to leave the pipes alone! I hope they learned that I am a safe, trustworthy person – even when they mess up. I hope they learned that forgiveness and grace can be expected because I have experienced them. I know what it is like to stand before the judge aware of my sin yet hoping for undeserved grace.
What did I learn? Children respond to gentle corrective discipline while outright anger intensifies their defiance.
Okay, I knew that already.
But on this day I had the chance to live like I believed it and it made all the difference in the world. I hugged the boys, told them I love them, told them I forgive them, and that we all make mistakes. Now we learn from them and move on.
They ran off to play and I walked into the cold, cold living room to wait for the repair man. A smile appeared out of nowhere. Anger evaporated. Grace in the moment.
Thank you God.