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Monday, April 12, 2010

Mercy and Grace

Who would have thought that the promise of a homemade smoothie would have had such tragic ramifications?!? While I was still cleaning up after dinner, Mandy and Hannah were cutting loose in the family room, excited about the prospect of the yummy dessert. Hannah turned upside-down on the couch and kicked her feet in the air. Unfortunately, Mandy did the same but did it next to the half wall and her flailing feet sent a vase to its demise. I saw it about to happen but even though I yelled for her to stop, it was too late. Typical Mandy…she stood up and said “I don’t know!”, trying to side-step the blame. I had both her and Hannah clean up the mess and then go outside. I was upset that she did it; this wasn’t the first thing she had broken and I knew it wouldn’t be the last. I didn’t yell, but put them outside so I could reign in the emotion before it damaged anyone. Before I knew it Mandy was back inside, moping around in the kitchen, not making eye contact but not seeking forgiveness either. Every part of my selfish, fleshly heart wanted her to stew in it for a while, but upon God’s prompting (and Dave’s encouraging) I knelt down in front of her, explained through a mixture of Chinese and English that I knew it was a mistake and that I forgave her. She melted into my arms, tears dropping down my back. Mercy reached down and lifted her up.
Later, Dave told Hope to get off the computer. Hope was ticked and stormed upstairs in a huff. Not finding this response acceptable, Dave went upstairs after her. Hope was barricaded in her room, refused to look at or acknowledge Dave speaking to her. Dave redirected her face to look at him gently with his hands while still speaking to her, but Hope lashed out and struck Dave. I knew from the floor below that SOMETHING bad happened, as Dave’s voice was booming from above. He told me what she did upon his decent so I went upstairs to address it and to show a unified front between her parents. I told her “We don’t hit in our family! You don’t hit baba, you don’t hit mama, you don’t hit sisters and you don’t hit brothers. Do you understand?” I also told her to tell me with her voice “yes or no” so I wouldn’t mistake a head nod for agreement when it wasn’t meant to be. Also, since we didn’t have a past of bending her will as she bent over our knee, I wanted to make her submit in a way that I knew it was her will. Although tears ran freely from her eyes, she was not going to agree with me verbally. Both Dave and I repeated the phrase: “We don’t hit in our family…” at least four dozen times, acknowledging that she started nodding after three dozen but insisting that she spoke her agreement. FINALLY, she said yes and tried to pull away to cry it out. I reached out to her drew her into a big hug, and told her that this was the time we were going to surround her with love. This teenage girl full of independence let herself go into our arms and cried silently (and not so silently). After about 10 minutes I asked her if she wanted us to stay or go, thinking she might like some privacy to compose herself. Much to my surprise, she said stay, and she just stayed in our arms for a while longer. Finally she sat up, took my previous suggestion to heart about seeking forgiveness and said “I’m sorry Dad”, adding “I’m sorry Mom”, totally unprompted. The waterworks started again, this time by Dave and me, as we hugged her and kissed her and told her we forgave her and loved her. Grace abounded.
How can such an emotionally charged, difficult day be so good?
All my best,