Monday, March 21, 2011

Locked Out

I was somewhere in the midst of cereal bowls and soapy water when the doorbell rang. Before I could even dry my hands, three pajama-clad kids scampered to the front door and opened it. (So much for that "stranger danger" talk.)

The couple at the door made me smile - a young buzz-cut boy with his hand firmly enveloped in his grandma's. She shrugged her shoulders and explained, "We're locked out." Then, she laughed. In a flurry of shed jackets and excited greetings, the children went off to play, and I ground coffee beans.

I wonder, who was more excited about the unexpected guests - the children or me?! After all, when the door swung wide and I recognized her, it was I who gleefully pushed schoolbooks out of the way, not the children. It was adult conversation and it was spontaneous. I've never been so happy for those inconvenient self-locks!

Is there a sweeter place than the kitchen table? Steaming mugs before us, we drank the fellowship deeply, two sisters in Christ. She gave me the gift of words - something I never run out of - and wisdom laced - like creamer in my coffee - with humility and laughter. We talked about kids, dogs, and mothering, all of which she is decades ahead of me on. Somewhere in there, she mentioned her own mother.

Kids were squealing, catching up in their own way, when she poured out the parts I had never heard.

"In a small town, folks knew. And talked about us, my mom and her live-in boyfriends...I remember being asked to the prom by a boy whose mother said 'it wouldn't do' to take someone like me. He did anyways." She brightened at this for a moment, but quickly sobered.

"The worst part was that she always chose the boyfriend over us kids, her own children." It's been sixty years and she still seemed baffled by this woman called Mother, who did it so differently than she did.

Later, after kids put on jackets and tromped outside to conquer some unseen foe in the sandbox, she told me how she has wronged another, sought to make it right. Here is when the tears really fell, and I made note: grace makes the wrong done against her much less painful than the wrong done by her.

All too soon, keys and hugs were delivered. It was suddenly quiet again (well, quieter) and the school books moved back to their high priority position. I loosened coffee grounds from the french press into the trash can, and wondered how this woman let loose of that history, those small-town whispers. Didn't she deserve to carry just a little bit of resentment, wear it like a badge of honor? Not only did she toss the badge, but she seemed to willingly pin it on others around her, pleading for them to let loose of their rightful resentment towards her.

Does her own forgiveness of her mother preclude her willingness to ask for forgiveness? Does grace produce more grace? Of course! This math of the Father always boggles me...It's as if He would like to see how unbalanced the scales can get!

I'm so thankful that this woman of faith has chosen to act in faith - because "to forgive as we have been forgiven by God is an act of faith, since it means that we are releasing the right to resentment and that we entrust justice to God rather than seek it ourselves." (Kenneth Boa, Conformed to His Image, p. 50)

"Forgive, and you will be forgiven," said Jesus (Luke 6:37).

Resting in His Forgiveness,

51. the assurance that I am prayed for
52. the chance to pray for others
53. little families we get to grow with
54. play dates on snowy days
55. our macho grandpa dancing a goofy dance to my kids' "Happy birthday" tune
56. family meals and the gift of food
57. Grandma and Punkin singing hymns together, generations rising to call HIM blessed
58. pre-pasted wallpaper, a sturdy ladder, & one willing mother
59. flossing, lots of flossing around here
60. scrubbed puppy dog
61. forgiveness - to be given and received
62. the life of Amos
63. perfect acceptance, just like I am, by the One who should require so much more from me
64. a picky nephew who tried a new food, and brightened when it tasted good
65. the grandma who cooked it!
66. the humility of a fellow mother, who called and asked for help
67. And the opportunity to help, as unto Him. The gift is for us, not her...
68. Uncle Kenny, and the pictures on his refrigerator

In all of these, and so many more, I am thankful today...


Kristine said...

I gotta know what pictures Uncle Kenny had on his fridge?

Karen said...


Uncle Kenny had pictures my children had drawn for him, and a picture of my oldest playing soccer. This meant a lot this week to my kids, after he was found dead in his easy chair. (Sorry to drop that drama on you!) The kids know they were treasured. :)

Thanks for reading here. Many blessings,

Cora from Hidden Riches said...

I was sooooo moved by your post today. You made a statement that caused me to pause and think: Does grace produce more grace. Yes, it does. Take it from an old lady here who also learned to forgive and extend grace. My only regret is that it took so long for me to learn this. I have learned one thing, though. It is people who have had deep thorns in their heart and borne that pain who know how to gently pull the thorns out of another and understand the bleeding heart!

Thank you for your post today. I had tears in my eyes and I go away greatly blessed!