It's one of those conversations that I've had with my child in a disclipleship moment, or so I thought, when he was so quiet I figured he was absorbing truth. In other words, I thought he was hearing from beginning to end, not missing the point, but apparently he did. And the take-away point he got from it backfired and was declared my fault. Of course.
Let me explain. (Mothers of ten year old boys may understand and empathize.)
Last week our Youngest got in trouble for a comment about "walking behind the royal behind." (See last week's Hodgepodge random question for the full version.) He got his stamp taken away at school. Time in the principal's office and time out with the teacher to whom the comment was directed, plus time off video games and more time reading should have proven enough consequences to curb his penchant for trouble for awhile, right?
Every morning on the ride to school, he and I alternate praying for him for his day. His prayer typically has gone something like this:
Dear Jesus, thank you for this day and help me to use self-control and the other fruit of the Spirit. Help me not to get in trouble and help me be a good student. Amen.
I began pondering the prayer a few days ago because something just didn't sit right about it. Then the Holy Spirit reminded me about the blessing of sin being brought to light, not hidden, so that it can be confessed, forgiven, and repented of. So yesterday I began what I thought was a dialogue about this point. It became more of a maternal monologue as he sat quietly listening (I assumed from my position at the steering wheel, with him in the back seat).
"Joel, you know what? I think a better prayer would not be "help me not get in trouble," but "help me use self-control and honor You, Lord, but if I don't, if I sin, help me TO get in trouble, to have my sin found out, not hidden, and give me courage to confess it and ask forgiveness and repent." I went on to explain that , even though it's uncomfortable and embarrassing and humbling to get in trouble, it's God's grace. Hidden sin eats away at us and our relationship with God and others. So it's better to get in trouble than not when you sin.
So...fast forward to 10 pm last night, after I picked him up from my folks' house, after a viewing for a friend's mom. He was tired. I was tired. But he was unusally quiet (which means he's got something on his mind of importance). I asked him what was wrong.
"I got in trouble in school today. I lost my stamp."
"Why? What did you do?"
"I threw the ball right after Mrs. G said "May I have your attention,please?" Well, I wouldn't have lost my stamp just for that, if it was out of my hand before she said 'attention' . Really I threw it right after she said "attention."
"So you lied."
"What happened next?"
"I got in trouble and had to miss recess and sit writing in her office about what I did wrong."
"What did we just talk about yesterday, Joel?"
He started to cry. "It's your fault, Mom!"
"Excuse me? What's my fault? How is your sin my fault?"
"Because you told me it's better to get in trouble."
Ai, yai, yai! "Is that what you heard yesterday?"
"Yes, you said it, remember? It's better to ask God to help me get in trouble than not get in trouble?"
Oh, boy. I had to straighten that one out on a fried brain, but I have to say, it tickled me.