Well, Abigail, what does that mean?
She hangs her head, A spanking.
Yes, what book did you write in?
The Apple Strudel Soldier.
A library book.
Why did you write in The Apple Strudel Soldier?
I thought it was a coloring book.
I could tell she was searching for a reason that sounded acceptable. A coloring book is an appropriate place to write. Things were getting out of hand, I had to tackle the “accident” and the writing and if we continued this line of questioning I am sure we would get into lying and other subjects this Monday morning mother wasn't prepared for.
We were sitting face to face--she on the couch, I on the ottoman. She was worrying over the consequences. I wanted to address the disobedience and “tweaking” of the truth.
Abigail, you knew this wasn't a coloring book. It is your favorite library book. We will have to tell Miss Diane when we take it back.
Do I have to have a spanking? She asked tearfully.
Yes, Honey, you have to have a spanking. You know you are not allowed to write in books.
A quiet voice--Ask to see what she wrote.
Abigail, show me where you wrote.
She opened the book to the title page and pointed to a pen mark not a centimeter in length. Eyelashes are longer. The frayed edges of this old book are longer.
Oh, Abby. I can't spank you for this.
Relief covers her face. There will be no spanking.
Mommy, I'm sorry I wrote in the book.
Oh, Sweetheart, I forgive you. I am sorry I scared you, that I was going to spank you without cause. Will you forgive me?
Yes. She replies.
Mommy, I'm sorry I wrote in the book. Will we need to tell Miss Diane?
No, Honey, we won't.
Her eyes give it away. Her body tense beside me gives it away. She isn't convinced. Not of the forgiveness. Not of the love. Not of the relationship damaged in disobedience, but repaired in forgiveness.
Did you know the Bible says that when we ask Jesus to forgive us of our sins, He does and He doesn't remember them anymore?
She looks at me.
Let me show you.
We go to the kitchen. I pull out the canister of flour wishing I had white flour here in this cabinet. Not losing a teachable moment, I reach for the not quite white of whole wheat flour. I pour it into a soup dish. And we sit at the kitchen table.
This is like us, like our lives. When we sin, it makes marks in our lives. I take my finger and draw. She too draws in the flour. Pointer fingers covered.
When we ask Him to forgive us, He wipes it away. I wipe away my marks. She wipes. No longer perfect, the flour has bumps and furrows that weren't there before, but the iniquity is gone.
That is what it is like, Abby. That is the way He doesn't remember.
She smiled and hopped down from the table. What about what is left on my hand?
Here wipe it on my pants. The tan-white of the flour marks the dark of my jeans. It finds its way in the furrows of denim. When we go to town later, I will have flour on my pants. I will be marked with the sin, with the lesson.
Can we read the Apple Strudel Soldier, now?
I smile, Yes.
We get comfortable. Sitting close, I open the book. We turn the pages, looking for the first sentence.
Did you see where I wrote? She tries to flip back.
I didn't see anything. I continue on to that first sentence.
She looks up.
She smiles. Free.
She cuddles closer. Loved.
He gathered up my marks. He wiped away my sin. He wears the consequences.
I look up.
I smile. Free.
I cuddle closer. Loved.
Who knew my lesson would teach me so much?
The lesson on forgiveness presented to my dear one was inspired by this post by Ann Voskamp.