But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
This is a pretty foundational concept in the Zug Haus, though some of us (…ahem…) don’t always execute it gracefully. As Believers we give grace because we have been given grace – though usually I demand grace for myself and justice for others.
Ruthie is an apple that did not fall far from the tree.
Much like me, she is quick to turn hot, and quick to turn cold – saying hurtful things she doesn’t really mean, then smoothing it over with a quick apology. Over and over and over again.
(Did I mention she is my carbon copy?! It’s frightening, really.)
“I’M NOT GONNA BE YOUR FRIEND ANYMORE!” and “YOU’RE NOT INVITED TO MY BIRTHDAY PARTY!” are the popular declarations.
My patience has been enormous in this area. I guess I have a superhuman load of compassion for Ruthie’s anger, and spend a lot of time in prayer begging God to help me help her figure out all that passion before she’s, say, thirty-five and swimming in postpartum hormone surges.
(That was not fun).
My patience ran out just a little bit tonight – partly because I’m PMS-ing, but mostly because she told ME I wasn’t invited to her birthday party.
“OH YEAH?!” I screamed back at her up the stairs. ‘IF IT WEREN’T FOR ME YOU WOULDN’T EVEN HAVE A BIRTHDAY PARTY!”
I just snorted my wine as I read back through that last sentence. It’s so nice to be able to laugh at myself. I wanted to throw her out the window in the moment, but after the fact? It makes for a hilarious line in a blog post.
I hauled out the Big Guns tonight while she was in her time out, and I read the above verse to myself. All through this struggle with her temper we’ve talked about love being kind, that love never gives up being a friend, that we love others even when they frustrate us – most of which is found in I Corinthians 13.
And while all that is true, it’s really first and foremost about Jesus.
So when she came downstairs I read her this verse, and I asked her if Jesus waited until we were nice to him before he died. She laughed. Of course not! was her basic answer.
We talked about how the people Jesus loved were mean to him, but he still loved them, and that’s how he wants us to love others.
A little while later Ruthie and Thomas were squabbling over a game of Candyland, and Ruthie blurted out, “I’M NOT GONNA – ”
She slapped her hands over her mouth and looked at me wide-eyed. I smiled and winked at her, and she smiled back.
And then it hit me.
“Ruthie,” I said, “I can tell Thomas was really frustrating you. Instead of yelling at him about not being his friend anymore – because I know you don’t mean that – why don’t you just tell him you’re really frustrated?”
And you know what? She told Thomas she was really frustrated.
Sometimes I feel like the most dominating aspect of being a parent is rather CSI-like, always following the trail of clues past all the bullshit to find out what the heart of the issue is. It’s a hair-pulling experience, but when I finally crack the case it’s always liberating to feel like I know what makes my daughter tick, and how to help her connect all the dots about who Jesus is.