I don’t even remember what his specific bad behavior was even though it was just last week. What’s impossible to forget is the question he asked.
The force of each word rose and fell much like a teenager learning to drive a car pressing the gas and then the brake in quick succession, causing passengers to lurch back and forth. “Fine, I WILL have a tea party with you!” he spat.
Earlier in the afternoon I told my son that I would like to have a tea party with him. We were munching on scones which made me long for tea. He smiled. And then people got fussy as the evening progressed toward bedtime and I became curt and he became tearful and angry. I let him huff and puff through his bedtime routine and though he was being naughty I kept my cool. His frustration over who knows what reached a peak until I simply had to insist that he go to bed—no stories or leisurely conversations, just pajamas, teeth brushing, and under the blankets. He became angrier. All the while, I spoke in a gentle tone, praying for his heart.
“I’m not having a tea party with YOU!” he spewed.
“Well, that’s okay” I responded firmly but lovingly, “I still want one with you.” Each time he acted out or spoke unkindly, I chose to bless instead of curse.
Finally, the lights went out.
And then his voice, rang out “Fine, I WILL have a tea party with you” he hmphed as he flung his blanket over his head.
“I’m glad, Son.” I said.
More moments passed.
And then, “Mommy, WHY do you want to have a tea party with me?” he questioned.
The longing in his voice struck my heart. Each word dripped with regret. I knew the question he was really asking was, “Do you love ME?” He ached for my reassurance and he felt humbled enough to ask because of my loving-kindness. And then he crawled out of bed and climbed, repentant, into my lap. I whispered that he was indeed, loved, simply because he was mine.
There is nothing that anger can do that love can’t do better. I could have reacted to his sinfulness with my own. By God’s grace, I was compelled to lovingly confront him and offer him grace, instead. The most merciful among us have experienced the most mercy. It’s an overflow of gratitude.
I often ask, “God do you still love me, even when I’m naughty?” And I hear God responding that He loved me when I was His enemy. In all my shame and weakness, He blessed me. In my most childish moments and my most sinful chapters of life, He pulled up a chair for me at His banqueting table.
I will do the same for my boy. We’ll have tea. And scones. And loads of jam and whipped cream. We will talk about obedience, grace, and all the things we don’t deserve. And it will be sweet, not because of the sugary goodness of the feast before us but because it will remind us that we are valued and loved simply because we are God’s children.
"Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost. "Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance. (Isaiah 55:1-2)
'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. (Revelation 3:20)