Have you ever had the experience of time moving in slow motion, almost like it was a dream? Time seems to stand still as many things happen all at the same moment. Although this happened to me one beautiful spring day about four years ago, I remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday….
I walked around to the backyard and saw my 8yr old son, Andrew. There he stood, clippers in hand, with a sweet childish grin planted on his face. I looked past him, spotting my mangled prized rose bushes. The look on his face turned from pride and joy to regret and sadness, all in the same moment. When he saw me, his first reaction had been sheer satisfaction for “helping” mom with a task, and doing the job oh so well. But, as he saw the look of horror on my face, he knew something was wrong.
But, if there had been any mistake about how I felt, Andrew realized instantly that he had made a mistake when my gasp turned into wailing, weeping, and devastated moans. What had been healthy, beautiful, HUGE bushes, many stems already budding, promising an early bloom, now lay on the ground around half inch stubs- the only thing left of my bushes. I would not be getting roses this spring and maybe not any until late summer, if at all.
“Mom, I trimmed the weeds away so you could plant your roses!” Andrew said quietly.
My son knows how much I love “my” roses. I cut them all summer for fresh flowers inside of the house. When the flowers begin to fade, I peel the petals and float them in water. I have pink, red, and pink-tipped yellowish blooms. I love arranging beautiful bouquets. All summer, I cut flowers for friends and neighbors and in the fall, I cut beautiful bouquets for teachers. These rose buses are so precious to me.
As I looked at the bushes, grief and loss swept over me. And, anger began to rise. What had ever possessed him to cut the bushes down? Why didn’t he ask first? He knows better to use the clippers without asking! Through all of the emotions, I heard a whisper, “mercy, grace, mercy, grace,” over and over. I knew the Holy Spirit was whispering to me to show my son mercy and give him grace.
By that time, my son, too, was crying. He needed affirmation that although he had done something terrible, Mommy forgave him. Well, it did take awhile for me to even compose myself. I sat down on the landscaping block and wept uncontrollably. My girls comforted me with hugs and kisses, as only preschoolers can do. When I regained enough composure to stand and talk, I hugged my son and told him how much I loved him, and that I forgave him.
I could have lost my temper. I could have angrily punished him. I could have said things I would have regretted. But, the Spirit, who helps us in our weakness, whispered words to me that were louder than any emotions or feelings that were buzzing all around me. I was able to teach life lessons to my son as I shared with him that God had helped me not to lose my temper. I told him how I heard the Spirit whisper “grace” and “mercy.” I taught my son that Jesus teaches us to forgive, even when something very painful has happened to us. I was able to share the “peace that passes all understanding” with him, as I explained how good it felt to let go of any angry feelings, and to offer him grace for making a mistake. And then my son reminded me that “with God, all things are possible,” and maybe we would have a beautiful crop of roses this year!
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion and kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them in perfect unity.” -Colossians 3:12-14
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” -Ephesians 5:1-2
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.” -Ephesians 4:32
Father God, may I always react to people the way You would have me treat them. Thank You for the Holy Spirit who leads us and guides us. Give me a spirit of grace, mercy and forgiveness. May I be a reflection of You and of Your goodness. In Jesus’ precious name we pray. Amen.
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