07 October 2009

Reconciliation with a child: How Our Lord Must See Us!

7 OCTOBER 2009. The Lord speaks to us in a whisper. To hear Him we need to have our heart attuned to Him through prayer, good works, and an earnest love of Christ. So, I am usually surprised when I hear God in the voice of another or through some event. When I least expect it, our Lord speaks to me. Today was one of those events. And, the dad in me wants to share it.

I arrived home from the office tonight to find my wife kissing me on the way out the door to a meeting at our parish church. Ugh, dinner and bedtime with the two children by myself. Oh well, I thought, let's get some mac-n-cheese and green beans cooking. To me, it sounds like a fine meal for a 5 year old and a 3 year old. Well, while preparing dinner, my daughter did something that really disappointed me. Not anything terrible (she's only 5), but something that she knew she should not have done, and her little brother was the victim. I stopped stirring elbow maccaroni to go handle the situation.

Now, I had heard the entire episode from my vantage in the kitchen. There was nothing about what happened that I didn't know. So I gathered them together to ask what happened, first reproaching my boy for doing the thing that started the chain of events. Then, turning to the five year old, I asked her what she did. She knew that I knew everything. But, she stood there, first mad and then frustrated and then overwhelmed with sadness trying to tell me, but not able to articulate the words. Finally, I intentionally lost my patience and said: "Just say it!" And she did, immediately wilting into my arms for reassurance. In that moment I heard Our Lord.

I will stop hear and clarify. I do not portend to say that God gives me personal revelations. I do not have deep insightful conversations with Our Lord. I struggle. I pray. I try to listen. Sometimes I hear God. Never in loud tones. Never in a spark of light or a clap of thunder, but in the smallest of ways.

God speaks to us all if we but listen.

My daughter was sobbing on my shoulder, sorry for her offense, sorry for not being able to confess her transgression to me right away--just wanting to be loved; just seeking comfort. And, the image was shown to me: this must be how God sees us. Indeed, he knows everything, even those things that we think no one else knows. He already knows, and is ready to forgive us and love us, if we but come to Him.

Why would a child fear admitting to her parent her wrong doing and, then, receiving reproachment and love from her parent? The parent knows it is important for the child to admit what she has done wrong, even if the parent already knows the whole story. But, still the child hesitates. In that hesitation is fear, self-doubt, questioning, rationalization, and on and on. The parent will not stop loving the child because of the error.

I would not--could not--stop loving my daughter no matter what she does. I see her struggle to reconcile and it hurts me. It must hurt God to see us struggle too. Instead of readily admitting our sin and reconciling ourselves to God and the Church, how many of us avoid the Sacrament of Reconciliation? How many of us struggle and hesitate, and in that hesitation we feel fear, self-doubt, questioning, engage in rationalization, and on and on? God cannot stop loving us. Nothing we can do--no matter what--is too big for God, our Loving Father.

What I heard the Lord say in this moment is this: look how you act like a child. See how it hurts you as a parent and how needless the whole exercise is! God says: "I love you more than you are capable of loving your daughter. Just ask for My forgiveness--you always have My love."

Maybe Our Lord has allowed me a glimpse of how He sees humanity. I pray, and ask your prayers, that I can learn from the experience, loving God more and opening myself to Him more readily.

1 comment:

  1. What a touching story. And so many nuances to it too. God, indeed, does speak to us softly, in whispers. He knows our every deed so there is no point in hiding or twisting the stories, he knows period. And , above all, he is forgiving. If we only practiced humility more often.

    Lastly, you are a beautiful parent. Your children are blessed to have you.