Grace & Mercy

Saturday, October 5, 2013

It finally happened. It’s a moment, rite of passage, that you know is coming and you have to figure out how you’re going to handle it when it does.
So, yesterday Eva and I made our weekly trip to the grocery store. Nothing out of the ordinary happening. You know the drill: walk in, find the cart with the blue car on the front, and stop by the conveniently located in-store Starbucks to get the kid a cake-pop to appease her while I shop. Yesterday was no different. With cake pop in hand, we ventured into the fresh produce section. For about the next 30 minutes we checked things off our list, said no to about 100 requests for all things junk food, and chatted sweetly with the old Ladies who told me not to blink because it goes by too quickly. I’m always surprised when they turn down my offer to let her help them with the duration of their shopping trip. I do feel like they chuckle as they walk away thinking, “Not a chance young Lady, I did my time!” (Insert maniacal laugh here.)
Let me tell you a little about Eva. She is spunky. She is fierce and she gets what she wants. She can talk her older brother into just about anything, especially if she knows he’ll get in trouble for it and not her. She is not afraid of anything and parenting her can be a challenge. I look into her beautiful three year old eyes and have such hope for her future. I know that God has big plans for this child. You don’t have a personality this big for small things. We are doing our best to teach her how to use this power for good. Use the force Eva, but baby, use it to bring glory to the Father!
So, back to our little story. We finish our list, make a quick mental sweep of anything else we may need and head to the checkout. Pretty uneventful there, this should have been my first clue something was amiss. We head out to the car and as I turn to get her that’s when I notice it. Since entering the store her leg has grown a 4 inch tumor. Very calmly I ask her, “Eva, what is that?” She slowly places her hand over the tumor and replies, “What Mommy?” That’s when I knew. This tumor was not a toy I’d forgotten she had but something she stole!
CRAP! My child is a thief. Not only is she a thief, but now she’s a liar too.  “Eva, take that out of your pants and give it to me right now.” She places the candy in my hand and looks me dead in the eye. Not even ashamed!  What? She’s a bold lying thief. This moment should not have surprised me but it did. I asked her where it came from and she told me. I asked her if she paid for it. She quenched up her little nose, threw her hands in the air and replied, “Do you see my piggy bank anywhere?” (Do not laugh, this is a serious teaching moment and cannot be funny. Do not laugh. Do not laugh.) I sat her down and told her not to move. We were going back into the store to return it and she better start praying for forgiveness and that the manager does not call the police. I placed the groceries into the car and then pushed the cart back to the store. We marched ourselves up to the customer service desk and asked for a manager.
As we waited, I explain to Eva what’s about to happen. “Eva, you have taken something that does not belong to you. You know that you have to pay for things before we leave the store. You know what you did was wrong. You are going to tell the Manager what you’ve done, return this candy and tell them you’re sorry.” That’s when she started to get antsy.  It was the first sign of remorse. I stood there with my daughter and just prayed for God to make this a memorable and teachable moment for her.
When the Manager arrived as a sweet grandmotherly lady, I was a little disappointed. I wanted a big intimidating man, but instead I get a sweet grandmother who really didn’t want to hurt my daughter’s feelings. (God is in charge, Annie, He knows what she needs. Ok, back to the task at hand.) I knelt down to Eva’s level. I looked her in the eye and said it was time. “Eva, tell the Manager what you’ve done.” She threw her arms around me and tucked her head into my neck. My heart sank. I pulled her off and stood her in front of the manager again. “Eva, tell her what you’ve done.” Again, she jumps into my lap and curls up, this time she started to cry. All the while, the sweet Manager is just standing there. Again, I pull her off of me, stand her up straight and look her in the eye boldly. “Eva, if you are brave enough to steal from someone, you are brave enough to tell them and ask for forgiveness. Now tell her.” She put her head down and cried. I gently put my finger under chin and lifted her head. “Eva, you have to do this by yourself. You have to own your bad choice. I love you enough to no let you get away with this. But Mommy is right here.” I turned her to face the Manager. She looked at her and then looked back at me. She bowed her head and just stood there. “Eva, we are not leaving until you tell her.” She raised her head, looked the manager in the eye and said with the smallest voice, “I took this and I’m sorry.”
I was heartbroken. My fierce child, my bold little girl, the one who’s not afraid of anything was starting to break. It’s one of those moments in life where you as a parent want to hold your child and protect them. I wanted to make some excuse as to why she did it. It had to be in some part because of my bad parenting. She’s a good girl. Don’t hurt her; I’ll take all the blame and all the punishment. But you know that’s not true. My parenting had nothing to do with this. I can’t cover for her if I want her to learn from her mistakes. I have to; no matter how hard it is, let her suffer. I have to let her feel the weight of her sin. And my prayer is that it does weigh heavy on her. I pray that she feels that weight the next time she’s faced with this temptation.
So the sweet Manager stood towering over Eva and talked to her about stealing and how it’s wrong and how it affects not just her but the store. She spoke firmly but sweetly. Eva stood there and listened and nodded yes and no at the appropriate times. Then the Manager did what I wanted her to do. She explained to Eva that when someone steals from her store, she calls the police and has them taken to jail. She paused briefly to let that sink in with Eva. She stood up straight, crossed her arms and looked at me, “Mama, do you promise to talk to her about this more when you get home?” “Yes, Ma’am I do.” “Ok then,” she stooped to Eva’s level, “since this is your first offence, I’m going to let you go home with your Mama today. But next time, I will call the police. Do you understand?” Eva nodded and jumped in my arms. With her arms wrapped tightly around my neck and legs around my waist, I stood up. The sweet Manager winked at me and walked away.
As we left the store the world felt a little different. It didn’t feel as safe anymore. I felt a little sadder and a little stronger. It was the first time that someone else knew my child wasn’t perfect. It was the first time that some else had control over my child’s fate. It was the first time my child had to publicly admit to her own failure. But in the end, I was proud of her. It was hard but she did it. And I was proud of myself. It was hard but I did it too.
So in the end, this is a story about Grace and a story about Mercy. How many times do we sin boldly and proclaim, "I have every right to do this!" Does it matter? Sin is sin. When we sin we deserve punishment. Most of the time we are not remorseful until we are confronted. Then we hide and turn away and make excuses. But that's not what God wants. That's not what He's interested in. And He's not just going to cover it up and walk away. That's not how grace works. That's not mercy. We don't receive it without owning it first. We must admit to our sin, repent and turn away from sin. That's where grace and mercy are found. We still suffer the consequences of our actions, but in Christ we will never suffer the full wrath of them.
I am thankful for a loving Father who never leaves my side. I am thankful for a God who loves me enough not to let me get away with it. I'm thankful for grace: getting something I don't deserve. I'm thankful for mercy: not getting something that I deserve.
Grace and Mercy: sweeter than the candy she stole.


  1. Wow! So powerful Annie. I know that was so hard, but man, so worth it in the end. A great lesson for all.

  2. Thanks Courtney! And thanks for leaving a comment.


Proudly designed by Mlekoshi playground