I love testimonies, and I assume that most Christians do, but the longer I am a Christian, the more I need to hear them (or read them). Testimony boosts my faith and faith as Pope Francis says, “is the strength of the soul!” In this season of life, with three little ones, I don’t get nearly as much quiet time, soul reflecting time… as I type this with one hand… one babe is napping, one is watching a show, and one is flailing on my lap. And it can be easy to simply put one foot in front of the other. We have set our lives up in such a way that we are positioned towards Christ, and yet it can be easy for me to practically live un-phased by the radical gospel call. So hearing these testimonies of healing at the mall, hearing Moe and others praying with people on the streets, hearing a new Christian talk so excitedly about his faith, even hearing Jen or Ryan’s testimony for the tenth time, I never cease to be profoundly uplifted.
Now onto a testimony of repentance… You probably have heard this before (maybe from me or another parent), but I thought I was a very patient person before I had children, I even thought I was pretty holy. Well let’s just say, I have been remarkably humbled in the last four years of my life. Much of my sin is impatience, which just happens to be the first quality of love, according to St. Paul (see 1 Cor 13:4).
The other night, Peter was at ChristLife for a webinar follow-up from the Discovering Christ Training Conference. I was solo for bedtime. If you don’t know about bedtime, checkout Jim Gaffigan’s commentary, it’s pretty accurate… “bedtime is a crisis!” This particular crisis was just a bit more crisis-y, with Anthony who was exhausted out of his diaper and his two other larger and louder sisters who kept waking him up just as he would fall asleep.
At first, I let Leyna and Terese play in their room while I was rocking him in the baby room, then they began to come in with whatever not-so-urgent urgent needs. I started with the negotiation “Please stay in your room, as soon as I put him down, I’ll come in I read you a bunch of stories, sing you whatever song you want, etc” …after a few times, I put Terese in her crib, she begins to shout and scream, then Leyna returns. So next phase is the punishments “If you come in his room again, no stories, no song, right to bed” this goes on for a while, Leyna begins to cry out of fear, she wants me in her room, not Anthony’s …then the ugly momma comes out “ARG… just… stay… in… there!!” Each time Anthony was even more tired and even more upset, Leyna was balling, Terese was screaming, and I was worn out.
I finally gave up… I took a very upset baby with me into the girls’ room and plopped on the floor. After a few minutes we all quieted down a bit. I asked for their forgiveness for getting angry, although I was still pretty frustrated, and tried to explain (to a 2 and 4 year old, mind you) all the reasons I was justified. They also said sorry, then I began to sing Amazing Grace, our nightly ritual. It took me to “…now I see” before I stopped, realized that I was still feeling “lost” and said, “Hold on, before I sing, I need to pray.”
“Dear Lord, Thank you for my three beautiful children”
I began to weep.
“Thank you for what gifts they are to me, thank you for their health, thank you for our home and a fun day we had.”
I begin to feel a bit of God’s amazing grace flood over me, but the praying still feels difficult.
“Lord Jesus, I repent for my anger and frustration with my children.
Please forgive me for being harsh and saying things I don’t mean.”
I stop to catch my breath and hold back more tears.
When I go to continue, I am interrupted…
“Jesus, I sorry for going in Anthony’s room.”
She’s crying too.
“For not listening to Mommy.”
Leyna stops and looks at me. I smile.
“He forgives you, baby. He forgives us.”
Ahhh… peace, forgiveness, and I start to sing Amazing Grace again.
It wasn’t perfect even after that, it took at least another 30 minutes before all three children were asleep. But I felt the truth as I sang…
“Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.”