Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Daughter's Confession: Why Confess? (Part 2)

She is the most mature six year old I have ever known. 
But her vocabulary, her inquisitive intelligence, and her concept comprehension sometimes work to her disadvantage. I forget she has only just turned six. Even when I remember, I still struggle and pray about each questionable discipline situation... is this where I give grace due to her youth?
Lord, help me!  
But this... this was way over the very clearly established lines. 
She had been grumpy from the moment she woke up. She had been not-quite-complaining about everything. She had made it very clear she thought she “might be getting sick”... something was “tingly” in the back of her throat, she said. She had asked for the herbal expectorant I rarely distribute. But really, what the key issue was: she was exhausted. 
Two days in a row of my not being there for nap time/quiet time had simply worn her little body out. Yes, my six year old still needs, and takes, a two hour nap 90% of the time. The days she doesn’t sleep after about 30 minutes she plays or reads quietly on her bed for at least an hour. She hadn’t done either the past two days. She works hard, plays hard, thinks hard, and sleeps hard. 
And now, her face was hard. After breakfast I asked her to go upstairs and dress for the day. A few steps up I stopped her to remind her(so I wouldn’t have to correct or discipline her) to not drop her pajamas on the floor, but to please fold them and put them away if they were clean, or in the dirty laundry if they needed to be washed.
She had stopped, and during the course of my saying these few words she had spoken over me almost continually just saying “expectorant... Expectorant... Expectorant.” 
I didn’t break eye contact with her. “Selah. Come down here now. You know that was rude and unacceptable. Please stand in time out.”
She comes down, wearing a teenage face I thought I wouldn’t have to see for another decade, and slumps face forward against the wall.
It was some of the longest seven minutes of both of our lives. A child standing in time out can be so creative in what they can do to be annoying or distracting without exactly being disobedient to the point of incurring another punishment. 
With two minutes remaining I could see the signs that she had decided she needed to go to the bathroom. I cut her off before she began to speak. “Selah, you have a couple of minutes left. Do not talk or your time will start over.”
When this eternal two minutes was over and I told her her time was up she turned woundedly with tear-brimmed eyes and said in exasperation “MOM, couldn’t you see I had to go to the bathroom?!”
I see. I see clearly similar attitude issues in her God had just been working out in me. I respond to her calmly as He had responded to me: “I knew what you thought you needed. If we had been in the car you would have had to wait longer than you did while standing there. You may go now.”
She does. Not-quite shutting the door too hard. 
Lord, help me! 
She is about to tromp upstairs again when I call her to me, to come sit, come talk, I want to make sure she understands why I disciplined her. She slouches in resistant obedience. I lead her with questions... does she know why I asked her to stand in time out? 
“Yes. I know why. Because I interrupted you.”
“And why do you think that calls for correction?”
“Because I was rude.”
“And why is it wrong to be rude?”
She almost rolls her eyes. She takes a long breath in, resigns herself to having to say what she thinks I want to hear. She knows the application for the verses she’s long had memorized.
“Because love is not rude. God is not rude. And we are supposed to be like Him.”
I hear the inflection and follow it close “and do you want to be like Him? Not rude, not proud... but loving... patient and kind?”
She hesitates. Then says it straight and watches my face for reaction “sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no.”
I understand that. I live that. I smile into her honesty. “I understand how you feel. I really do. But I know in your heart you really do want to be a kind young lady, I know you don’t really want to be rude. I know you want to be obedient and respectful. Why don’t you take some time on your bed and talk to God about how you’re feeling? He can help you. He helps me.”
She shrugs in acceptance. “Okay, but I don’t really want to talk to Him.”
“Why is that, babe?”
“Because I’m angry.”
I understand that too. “Yes, it can be very difficult to talk to God when you are angry. What are you angry about?”
I hear the beginnings of a break in her voice. “Because... I’m angry because of what I did.”
The Spirit inspired words scroll across my sin-bent heart “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do... Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!

I prompt further gently. "That's okay. That is a good thing. You can talk to Him about what you did. What do you remember about confessing your sin to God?"

She spouts it quickly, irritation pouring from her lips: "if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." Then immediately follows with "but I just don't see the point. It doesn't make any sense to me."

I pray for her to stick with me here, to keep a willing heart, in this difficult place when we don't understand. "What doesn't make sense to you, Selah?"

She looks at me, frustration churning, and reveals the source. "Even if I confess my sin this time, I'm just going to mess up again. And then what? I'll have to confess again? I'll just mess up again and again and again! Why confess when you're just going to make more mistakes?"

I lean in close, so that she look will look into my eyes. "That is a very good question." She glances up. I look at her with tenderness and love, she connects, and softens a little. Oh sweet child, you have a lifetime of confession ahead of you. I don't want to tell her what she already knows. I pray for the Spirit Who reminds and teaches us all things to bring it to her mind. "What does God say He does for us when we confess?"

"He purifies us from all unrighteousness."

"Yes. He purifies us from all unrighteousness... and what blessing do you receive when you are pure?"

She is connecting the dots. "Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God."

"Yes. What an awesome blessing! Why do we need to be able to see Him?"

She speaks truth so easily, so obviously, and I'm refreshed by talking with this child who has no image to maintain, no pride greater than her questions and doubts."Because if we couldn't see Him we would be blind. We wouldn't know where to go or what to do. We'd bump into stuff."

I smile wide and one lights across her face too but she stuffs it back quickly, the reflection lost as she lowers her eyes back down to the ground. "But it still doesn't make sense to confess. I'll just lose that purity again."

I nod slow and serious. The motion draws her attention again to my face. I hold her there with affirmation. "That's true. We do not remain pure. But Selah, what if we never had a clean slate?" Breakfast dishes are still scattered everywhere. "What if I never washed, if I never purified the plate you eat off of?"

She is determined to be stubborn, a trait that can be used for God in such powerful ways and therefore has such potential for the kingdom of darkness as well. "I wouldn't mind it."

I adore the directness she starts from, a place God lovingly drags me to, so we can begin to work on my real issues. I laugh outright. "At first you might not! But what if I didn't wash it for days? For weeks... think of what would pile up! What then?"

Again, I appreciate her honesty. "That would be gross."

I nod. "It would. And what do you think would happen if you kept trying to be nourished off this dirty plate?"

"I would get sick."

Some of the words so impressed on me, only a few minutes earlier during my time with the LORD, ring straight through and strike loud. "they will be in despair, and all the workers will be sick at heart."

I take her hand in earnestness. If only she could learn this now, and not forget. "You would, Selah. You would get sick. It is the same with confession. We may not care about having a pure heart or a clean slate at first, but if we wait too long we will get sick.... How long has it been since you've confessed your sins to God and asked Him to purify you?"

I can see she wants it now, right relationship restored. "A long time..."

And she offers this low and timid "but I don't know what to say..."

I ask if she would like me to help her pray. She leans towards me with a yes, all the blindness washing from her eyes. I hug her close, just hold her for a while as the sickness is loosening, all coming clean.

The un-stiffening of arms and the being held close opens the tender self-wounded heart to Love. 

She tells Him she knows she sinned because she didn't act like Him. She tells Him she wants to be like Him, have His character. She asks Him to forgive her, and thanks Him that He is faithful to do it, and that He says it is just to forgive her. 

She lays relaxed in my arms, and when her face turns towards me, all her blue is clear and free. 

And the heart of it all, why He wants us to confess, I speak it straight from my spirit to hers "I love you.".


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