“I’m really sorry it’s come to this – but if you still support Trump we can no longer be friends.”
I’ve read many versions of this sentiment over the last several months, and it always grieves me. It grieves me because it is sorely lacking in simple courtesy. And also grace. And the bitterness fueling an ultimatum like this one, if left unchecked, will devour the self-righteous and unsuspecting soul from the inside out.
Long ago I read Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel. Honestly, I remember little about this book except that Kimmel suggested all exasperated parents ask themselves this question when dealing with a strong-willed child: Is this action or behavior a willful sin? Or am I primarily frustrated, angry, or embarrassed that he is not conforming herself more fully to my expectations? This question changed my life.
David and I have four children. But even if you have only one, or spend time with kids in any capacity, the odds are high that your child will exercise his own will contrary to yours, and usually at the most inconvenient moment! At some point your son will resist or ignore your way and go his own. Your daughter will have her own mind about the values and ideas you hold dear, for better or worse. But is this always a willful sin? Or do we sometimes respond to the strong-willed child out of our own fatigue, fear, and immense frustration?
Grace Based Facebooking might ask exasperated social media users a similar question: Do we attribute willful sin to those who resist or don’t conform to our expectations?
Do we judge the sinner, find her guilty, and discipline her publicly and harshly for her own good? And if that doesnt work, do we then defriend and disown her until she can get her act together? And are we also impatient, condescending, and rude to the sinner until she repents and comes home?
Yes. I do all these things in my heart. I sit in the judgment seat that belongs to the only eternal, wise, and merciful Judge of all the world. I think too highly of myself. I issue rude ultimatums. I forge ahead in the way and words that seem right to me. I take matters into my own hands.
Father, have mercy on me, and on us all, your strong-willed children. And by your Spirit, help us hold fast to the loving-kindness, forbearance, and patience that is your language – a language which the deaf and can hear and the blind can see.
Peace to you and yours today, because “The LORD is just in all his ways and kind in all his doings.” (Psalm 145:17)