This text came from my wife on Tuesday morning...
"Caleb woke up and came down with the spatula in his hand.
Me: Why do you have the spatula in you hand?
Caleb: It was in my room.
Me: Oh, did you get a spanking last night?
Caleb: No, but I was supposed to get one and you want to know why I didn't get one?"
Caleb: Dad showed me Grace. I like Grace.😂"
I wasn't sure he comprehended the concept the night before when I was explaining it to him. We had left someone else's house and he was throwing a hissy fit like usual and I told him when we got home he was getting a spanking. Like any parent with a brain full of things to think about, I totally forgot that I said that and by the time we got home and I was putting the boys to bed, I was surprised to see the spatula in his hand as he sat on his bed. I actually had completely forgotten that I was going to discipline him.
"Me: Dude, you can't take that to bed with you.
Caleb: I'm not, I got it from the kitchen so that you could spank me.
Me: Oh, that's right. You deserve to get spanked after tonight, don't you?
Me: What did you do tonight that was wrong?
Caleb: Threw a fit.
Me: Yep. But guess what I'm going to do tonight?
Me: I'm going to show you grace?
Caleb: What's grace?
Me: Well, it's basically you deserving to get a spanking but me deciding to offer you mercy by not giving you one.
Caleb: What's mercy?
Me: It's a lot like grace.
Caleb: I know a girl named Grace.
Me: Yeah, but that's not what we're talking about here. I'm going to not spank you even though you deserve it....that's grace.
Caleb: (Big Smile)...Hey, Josh! I'm getting Grace and not getting spanked!
Me: Now go to bed and don't climb the walls or I'll kiss grace goodbye and use the spatula."
I wasn't positive he got a blessed thing out of that exchange until Heidi text me the next morning. But he's a sharp kid and gets more than I give him credit for.
There's something about Grace.
I find as I get older that I need more of it and that I have a harder time receiving it. I don't mind giving it, but for some reason I recoil when God or anyone else gives me grace. I have developed of habit along the way of wanting to pay penance for my transgressions. I want to be punished for my failure. I want to be yelled at and penalized for my mistakes. I'm not sure why this is my preference...though I believe in the power and need for grace theoretically.
Mostly where I hear and experience the most merciless and graceless treatment is in my own mind. If you didn't know it was my own brain assaulting me and I told you that someone else was saying these words, you would say it was abusive. You would call it a hate crime. You would say it was pure evil. My mind turns against me and pummels me like a bandit.
"You're such a fake...a fraud."
"Nobody likes you."
"Everyone is going to leave you."
"Everything is going to fall apart and then you are."
"You're not going to make it."
"You're in over your head."
"Your motives are always wrong."
"You're a liar."
"You're a horrible father. You're kids are going to hate you someday."
"You're wife deserves someone better than you."
"People are bored of your preaching. You've got nothing to say."
"Blah, blah, blah..."
Listen, I could go on and on. I really could. Words of disgrace flow freely; words of grace are hard to come by.
I can give love. I struggle to receive love.
I can give help. I wrestle to receive it.
I can give mercy. I resist receiving it.
I want to get the spanking. I want to feel the pain and receive the just punishment for my actions. I don't want anyone letting me off the hook or taking it easy on me. I don't want a free pass or an easy out. I want to pay the price for my peccadillo. It feels so responsible, but it's actually pride.
There are times when I can feel the power of grace and let it in. Those are moments of beauty and life and peace and freedom.
There are times that a big smile fills my face and I say with Caleb, "But guess what? Dad showed me grace. I like grace."