Fresh mercy for every moment
“Lord, I praise you for your mercies are new every morning.”
It’s the prayer I have been praying over and over again lately - daily reminding myself that His love is steadfast, His fresh mercy every morning is plentiful, His faithfulness is unceasing, and His goodness is unstoppable.
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
My hope- it’s in you Lord and I have a fresh dose of hope this morning as I recite this verse over and over again. My soul rests in it.
Our morning began as usual. The boys woke up and ate breakfast. Then, as always, they wrestled. They got dressed for school, and then they tried to wrestle again. Why brush your teeth and hair when you can wrestle instead? Even as they grabbed their backpacks, they found ways to “lovingly” shove each other to the ground. I’m a boy mom, indeed.
They were in a particularly good mood today because it’s Friday and they know this means they get Daddy for two straight days. (I’m sure this is why they love the weekend so much - they have a Daddy who commits his weekends to being present and available for lots of family time.)
And I was in a particularly good mood because a sweet friend offered to walk Cal and Brennan to school on this freezing cold day. But,…. just before the boys walked out the door, my sweet Brennan had one of his meltdowns. (These meltdowns aren’t unusual for Brenny, and honestly, while they used to make me lose my mind, now they just make me want to hug him even tighter.) His winter gloves didn’t fit right and his thumb kept getting stuck. Oh the trials and tribulations of a 5 year-old.
We did our best to get the gloves on right and I asked Cal to be particularly kind to Brennan as they walked to school. “Cal,” I said, “your little brother is having a rough morning. I bet it would mean a lot to him if you came alongside him on the way to school and encouraged him.” “Sure mom,” Cal replied, and they were off.
I wish I could tell you that’s how the story ended but life isn’t that picture perfect.
In speaking to my friend after she dropped our kids off at school, I learned that Cal was anything but extra kind to Brennan. Unless you call teasing your brother for his tears freezing on his face a kind thing to do. My discouragement came quickly, not just because Cal was unkind to Brennan but because this is something we have been talking a lot about in recent days.
We’ve been talking about kindness..... with conversations about how……
We’re a team (Psalm 133)
God created us for a purpose and made us a family for a purpose. (Psalm 139)
We were made to love each other deeply- to encourage one another in God’s love. (1 Peter 4:8)
We were created to build one another up and spur one another on. (Hebrews 10:24)
Our home is our haven. It’s where we fill up on God’s love for us so we are equipped to take His love out into the world and share it with others. (1 John 4)
And the list goes on………
No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.
I pondered how I would, yet again, try to use this as a teachable moment with Cal - and the next thing I knew, I was on my way to Cal’s school.
I walked into the front office, asked for a pass to excuse my son from class for a moment, and had him sent to the hallway to meet me. Bold, I know. Crazy, perhaps. But something inside me said it was the right thing to do.
Cal met me in the hallway and the first words out of his mouth were, “What did I do mom?” He knew. Oh he knew.
Cal and I sat on a bench in the hallway and I explained, “Baby, I’ve never pulled you out of class before and it's not something I plan to do again. But something in my spirit told me to come talk to you about what happened this morning on the way to school. And when I think the Holy Spirit is nudging me, I respond. So I need you to tell me about your walk to school this morning and how you treated your brother.”
“I wasn’t kind, Mom. I teased him for crying about his gloves. And I don’t know why. I don’t know why I did it.”
“Okay, well let’s sit here together for a moment so you can have some time to think about it. I want you to think about what was going on in your heart when you chose to be unkind to your brother.”
Cal’s eyes teared up, “I’m really sorry mom.”
“I know you are baby, I can see it in your face and hear it in your voice. But it’s important that we talk about it.”
Cal and I continued on to have a conversation about God’s abundant grace. It was an invitation, from God, to use that moment to remind Cal what’s in his fallen heart, what God desires to do in His heart, that none of us are perfect (no, not one) and we all need Jesus. It was a chance to remind Cal that Jesus lived in perfect kindness on His behalf so that Cal could continue on in his day, forgiven, free from guilt, and faultless before God. And it was a chance to remind Cal that even when we can’t, Jesus can. So I reminded Cal to ask Jesus to live through him to help him to show kindness, once again, to his brother. Cal can do this because God’s mercies are not only new every morning, but every moment.
I need the gospel of grace message afresh every day. And my kids need the gospel of grace message afresh every day. God forbid we ever tire of it, or think we have outgrown it. We need it every- single- day.
I hugged Cal tight and reminded him that I don’t expect perfection from him (if you know my story, you know it’s important for me to tell this to my kids because “perfection” used to be the only thing I did accept.) I reminded him how very much I love him, on his best and worst days. I reminded Him how much Jesus loves to forgive him and shower him with fresh mercy. And I reminded Cal that my job, as his mom who loves him to the moon and back, is to help grow him into the great man God created him to be. My job is to point him to Jesus.
I can’t change Cal’s heart. (Heck, if I can’t change my own heart, I surely can’t change my kid’s hearts) I need only remember what does change the human heart, and give him more of that. Grace. More grace.
And in doing so, I need to be sure I’m not trying to do the Holy Spirit’s job. I am finding, particularly in my role as a mom, that I need to spend far less time trying to be the Holy Spirit for my kids, and a lot more time praying that the Holy Spirit will captivate my kids with God’s great love and mercy.
There is an awesome quote by Elyse Fitzpatrick that I often recall when I am doing more than I know I should. When I am trying to control my kids or control the outcome, I remember these wise words from Elyse:
We have far too high a view of our ability to shape our children and far too low a view of God’s love and trustworthiness.
I don’t know. Maybe my showing up at Cal’s school was my having far too high a view of my ability to shape my son. But if it was, I know that God’s grace covers that too. His mercies are new every morning. And I'm going to rest in that today.