We played a game. on top of that mountain. . . . who could keep her feet in the icy coldness the longest?
I don't remember who won, but I remember that moment with her, that week long vacation, those memories made that summer. I remember the lessons she learned: how to cook mac and cheese on a camp stove after plucking each elbow macaroni out of the dirt when the box tipped over and how to pee in the wilderness without soaking the waistband of her shorts or getting it on her shoes. She learned the excitement of catching her first fish and how to push through the mental and physical exhaustion when pushed beyond what she thought her limits were.
The week came to an end, the family van descended that mountain into the valley below, and the survival lessons ceased.
At least that is what I thought.
One ordinary evening, as I was preparing an ordinary dinner, the dog pooped an ordinary poop. . . in the house!
But she chose not to. . . at least not when she was asked. I do believe her when she said that she had every intention of doing it . . . later. But the distractions came and the task forgotten.
When my husband walked into the room and picked up the pile, I reacted.
The anger carried over to the dinner table. She didn't seem sorry enough, in my opinion. Forgetting was not an acceptable excuse. She disobeyed on accident and I wanted not only an apology, but a "will you forgive me, Mommy?"
After dinner she was told to help with the dishes. I wanted so desperately to spend this time with her, so I could get what I felt I deserved Those four words from her were the only keys to appeasing my anger and opening the door of my heart to extend that forgiveness.
But the Lord had his own set of keys.
As we were washing dishes, I asked in a not so friendly tone, "What do you think you need to do, so I won't be mad at you anymore?"
Her reply crushed my heart!
"Work harder," she said softly.
Oh Lord! Is this what I have taught my daughter? Does she really think she can work her way out of this? How do I fix this? How do I teach her to just ask for forgiveness?
I wasn't angry anymore, just desperate - desperate to make this right and teach her a different way. But I didn't know how to do it on my own.
So I prayed fervently but silently for wisdom. As I prayed with a dried dish in my hand, I moved to put it away and she moved too. The ceramic collided with the small of her back with force and she broke. And the tears spilled, and I didn't mean to hurt her. . . it was an accident.
As I held that girl, crying my own tears, I told her I was so sorry. I didn't mean to hurt her with the dish. It was an accident.
"Will you forgive me?" I asked her.
I asked HER! That was it! My answer to my prayer, "Lord, how do I teach her to just ask for forgiveness?"
I had to model it. I had to make a mistake and then model the correct response.
When our tears stopped, we went out to the pool and side by side we soaked our feet and talked about what happened. We were tired, but this time it was not from climbing a mountain and learning survival skills along the way.
It was from learning life skills down here in the valley. It was from the emotional fight to get to a place of forgiveness and grace our relationship so desperately needed in the ordeal.
It was me being humbled by the Lord in an instant to teach my daughter what I didn't know how to teach her when I was full of my own anger and self-righteousness.
Parenting is a tough job! As I taught my daughter a lesson of forgiveness that day, I also learned something. I learned that my Father is right there ready to help in my time of need.
Wisdom, grace, and forgiveness are waiting to be handed down to His children when we are humble enough to receive them.
It is how we survive the storms. It is how we find our way when we are lost. It is how we learn to love others.
"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God." 1 John 4:7