The other day C handed me a picture she had spent several minutes drawing and coloring. My eyes grew wide when I glanced at the lined notebook paper. I had been expecting her usual trademark chicken pictures, but this time she had drawn something completely different. On the paper were three brown crosses with a man hanging on the middle one.
“Oh! It’s Jesus,” I remarked in surprise. “What a wonderful picture.”
She nodded and then commented, “I didn’t know how to draw His mouth.”
At first I didn’t know what C meant; she’s known how to draw faces since preschool. Then it dawned on me that she didn’t know whether to draw a line curving up or down.
Because considering the circumstances, death on a cross was one of the most painful, excruciating, and shameful ways to die. Yet, Jesus willingly accepted all of the physical, emotional and spiritual torture that went with it for one reason: His love for us.
I’m not sure whether or not a 6 year old understands the theology behind Jesus’ emotional state on the cross, but C’s picture does shed some light on how complex, deep and heart-wrenching Jesus’ sacrifice for us must have been.
It is just as Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Shame versus joy. Or rather, shame mixed with joy. That was how Jesus viewed the cross.
And this was how I replied to C’s comment, “It is kind of complicated. It was painful for Jesus to die on the cross, but He was happy to do it because He loves us.”
Even though the day Jesus died was the darkest, most depressing Friday in all history, it paved the way to the most glorious, awesome Sunday three days later. That’s why today is called GOOD Friday.
C’s pictures: Good Friday on the left; Easter on the right!
So happy Good Friday to you all! May you have a wonderful Easter Sunday, too.
Now enjoy this contemporary take on one of my favorite hymns, “The Wonderful Cross”, sung here by Chris Tomlin.
If there’s anything I’ve learned over the past 7+ years, it’s that parenthood is one looong, continuous lesson on love.
Just as it takes a whole lot of work to maintain a good marriage, it takes a LOT of work to be a loving, patient, kind, understanding—insert all the warm and fuzzy adjectives you can think of—parent.
I love my kids, don’t get me wrong. I can’t imagine my life without them. I love how I am probably the most important person to them in their lives right now (sorry hubby!)—and yet I also cringe at that thought. I cringe because every word I say, and especially the manner in which I say it, has greatpower. My words can either inject light and approval into their little hearts or instill gloom and doom. And once my words are out there, I can’t take them back. Sure, I can (and often do) apologize when I “lose it”, but the damage has already been done (sigh).
To be truly loving towards our children all the time may not be possible (we are only human), but it is something we can strive for – and believe me, there are plenty of chances to practice. Just the other day I had the unfortunate opportunity to show love to our dear son. I say unfortunate because it’s always easier to love our kids when they say and do what we want, however this time was not one of them.
For some reason which I can’t remember right now, he had a major meltdown 30 minutes before bedtime. The fact that he was very tired probably explains why he was sitting on the couch crying with his head thrown back, eyes clamped shut and mouth wide open. When he cries like this, it’s like a dam has opened and all of Niagara Falls is gushing out of him. It’s hard to calm him down or reason with him about anything at this point.
In my head I was thinking, Aiya, what now?!?!?! and starting to feel like a pressure cooker about to burst open. I looked at hubby who was already exhausted from a crazy week at work and saw that he was getting frustrated, too (which is rare because he is very patient with the kids). Before I knew it, my own dam cracked and I was spewing out some harsh words at our son, until hubby shook his head and said, “It’s okay.”
What?! It’s not okay!! I wanted to yell. Instead I shut my mouth and stomped into the kitchen. After a while, our son ran out of steam and tears and stopped crying. We then convinced him he was tired and needed to sleep, and off we went to bed.
The following day hubby and I had a chance to debrief, meaning I had a chance to vent. I asked him how in the world he had stayed so calm and he admitted he almost lost his patience, but reminded himself not to go there.
“He didn’t deserve it,” hubby said about our son. “He just wanted some attention. He needed compassion.”
Image courtesy of luigi diamanti/freedigitalphotos.net
If you can imagine, I totally moaned in frustration and disbelief at hubby’s comment. That was such a classic “give me a pencil so I can poke my eye out with it” kind of moment.
Of all the things I wanted to give to our son during his meltdown, compassion was NOT one of them. What I thought he deserved at the time was a good scream-fest about how unreasonable he was being – because he was. Ithought I had the right to feel frustrated and impatient over his behavior – and maybe I did. But I missed an important point. Even if I was upset over how he was acting, I didn’t need to give in to the moment. The very thing I wanted him to do – control his emotions – was something I needed to do myself. But why? Simply because my love for my son should be bigger than his temporary meltdowns.
If I could have taken a step back from the situation, I would have realized that pouring fuel on a fire never puts the fire out. It’s only when you douse the flames with water, does it die down. Yes, our son neither deserved nor benefitted from me pouring my wrath upon him. What he needed was my patience and understanding.
Oh, how I hate it when hubby is right! 😛 But I am oh so thankful that I learned something more that day about love. This verse from Micah 6:8 came to mind:
He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you,
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God.
I usually see this verse used for social justice issues, but I believe it applies just as much in our homes. Do we treat our kids justly? Do we show kindness to them? Do we acknowledge our weaknesses as parents and ask God to help us?
Sigh, sigh and sigh. So much for being a perfect parent! (I’m kidding, I know I’m not!)
I am really challenged by this verse. I almost feel like I have to go back to the “drawing board” and reevaluate the way I parent. At least I have a better idea of what I need to work on now and that’s justice, kindness and humility.
I just love this song by Chris Tomlin, “Kindness”, which speaks of our ultimate example of kindness. 🙂
What ideas and thoughts do you have about “doing justice” towards your children?