I Have a Confession
This morning at 7am I was changing my daughter's diaper when my son walked into her room, nearly in tears, and said, "I know you told me not to get out of bed last night, but I forgot and I played with toys." This was literally the first thing he said to me, and I wanted to respond, "Why are you telling me this?" or "It's no big deal, bud," but even as I was forming those words in my mouth I thought, "but it is a big deal, because it's obviously a big deal to him." I think I ended up saying, "Okay, thanks for telling me," and then we went downstairs for breakfast. The day kept rolling on and I never had a chance to revisit that discussion, but tonight when the house was quiet, I discussed this with the Lord. I felt like I had missed an opportunity to shepherd my son's heart, and I wanted to be better prepared for the next time.
What was really happening in that moment? And how could I have been more helpful with my response?
It is clear to me now that my son was deeply convicted about his disobedience. In addition to feeling convicted, he was sorrowful over his sin. In hindsight, I celebrate this response because this is evidence of the Holy Spirit working in his life! If I could have a do-over, I think I would say, "It sounds like you are feeling convicted about disobeying, and you are sorry for your sin. It feels yucky to disobey, and I'm glad you feel sad when you've done something wrong. Thank you for being honest and confessing this to me. I forgive you. Let's tell God that you are sorry for your sin, and we know that He will forgive you also."
Now, it has occurred to me that my children may start to manipulate me with tears and pretend remorse. I don't think that is what happened today, but if the same disobedience continues to occur, then the confession has not led to repentance. To repent means to turn away from sin - to literally adjust your course 180 degrees. If my son tells me tomorrow morning that he "forgot" what I told him and therefore failed to obey, I will probably repeat the above dialogue and add in some sort of consequence to help him "remember."
True repentance leads to change - only time will tell.
To be aware of our sin and to grieve over it is a gift from God. The recognition that we fail to meet God's standards is the first step in our salvation, because it is only people who recognize their limitations who can rejoice over and cling to a Savior.
While we are in the thick of this "character development" phase with our kids, it helps me to remember that the bright side of frequent sin is the ability to frequently point to Jesus. I don't want my words and actions to unknowingly imply that small sins are no big deal, because all sin is a big deal. All sin leads to death. At the same time, I don't want to shame my children or have heavy-handed conversations on the way to the breakfast table, and so this is a dance that requires grace and wisdom and discernment. I often feel unqualified for this job. Fortunately, God.
Jehoshaphat prayed a prayer in 2 Chronicles 20:12 that all parents can echo... "We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You."
Our eyes are on You, Lord. We don't know. Please show us.
As I reflect on conviction and confession, I realize that I have much to learn. I am quick to agree with God that I am a sinner - that's pretty obvious - but somewhere along the line I stopped feeling sorrowful. Somewhere along the way I stopped feeling relief and joy in knowing that Jesus gave His life so that my sins could be forgiven and our fellowship could be restored. This is the heart of the gospel - God saves sinners. If you know you are a sinner then this is indeed good news! And so, in trying to figure out how to help my son, my son has helped me. He has reminded me to be sorry for my sin - to repent and to give thanks for grace.
This, friends, is one more reason that God's design for family is beautiful and good and right. We are a bunch of sinners living together who sometimes hurt each other. But in the midst of our sinning and hurting and selfishness we remind each other of the gospel - we point each other back to Jesus and we celebrate grace - and if you get up early enough, all of that can happen before breakfast.
2 Corinthians 7:10
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
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