“Happy is she who cherishes the forgiveness of her sins rather than the relentless pursuit to think well of herself.” ~T.S. Eliot
A couple of years ago, when my 3-year-old godson Cal was at my house for our weekly play-date, we decided that rather than burdening our Southern souls with the frigid outdoor weather, we would sled on the wooden floors inside my home. After placing Cal on my softest blanket, I gathered its midnight blue edges and pulled him around the house. In a matter of moments, he was doubling over in laughter and delight as I led him around the house. After a few rounds, I turned too fast and Cal fell on his side–hard. As tears of hurt streamed down his face, so did drops of blood from a now-busted lip. My heart broke. Not surprisingly, in true toddler fashion, he was up and moving moments later. Still, I couldn’t stop playing an unholy litany of regret in my mind: Shouldn’t I have seen it coming? What kind of godmother lets her godson get hurt? He is going to remember this for a long time.
Later in the day, as Cal prepared for bed, I told him I was sorry about his hurt lip. As though it never happened, Cal told me he would see me tomorrow, and we exchanged kisses and hugs. Before I could get out the door he said, “Ea, one more kiss.” And as I picked him up, he smacked a big wet one on my lips and wrapped his arms around my neck with such purpose. Then he looked at me, patted my cheek and told me bye. Cal didn’t see my mistake; he just saw my unconditional love for him.
Driving home, I realized that Cal’s response was a glimpse of the depth to which God longs to lavish love and grace upon us, especially when we think we don’t deserve it. It’s easier to focus on our mistakes and how we can improve them, when in fact we may be called to admit that not only are we human, we are most fully human we when rely on and seek God’s grace, forgiveness, and love. Indeed, that is exactly what one of the condemned criminals did as he hung on a cross next to the crucified Jesus. When the young man admitted his frailty and need, Jesus did not roll his eyes; instead, he assured him of a place in God’s kingdom. Friends, we are not meant to be perfect, just human…and that is more than enough.
Spend at least five minutes curled up in your favorite chair. As you do so, close your eyes and imagine being enveloped in Jesus’ arms. What does it feel like? What keeps you from doing it more?