My girl came home from school hurt today.
And it broke my heart.
One of her “best friends” said some of the most hateful words about my girl, to my girl. They were hateful enough that I’m uncomfortable even relating some of the more “acceptable” words. My girl was devastated, barely holding herself together on the bus until she could get inside the door, and then she was a wreck. She feels ugly, unwanted, despairing.
The night has turned around somewhat, thanks to her brother Mark who defended her and protected her, and then helped her joke around to get her mind off of it. We’ve ordered a pizza, played a game and now we are watching a movie together.
My mother’s heart is struggling to understand this. I want to lash out at the parents for raising a child who would speak such mean words to a friend. But that is not an option. I may be dealing with non-Christian parents here. It’s a fine line. But there is also a part of me that wants to take this girl into my arms that has hurt my girl, and educate her to see if she really has any idea the power of her words. I imagine that she does not. And that is sad.
It reminds me of a passage in Ephesians, starting in verse 29:
29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
There are lessons here for us as adults, too. Maybe even more so as adults. Because it is our children that are watching us and learning from us.
Do we take the time to consider the words that come out of our mouth? Toward our spouses? Toward our children? How many relationships would be repaired, and built up, if corrupting talk was not an option. Words are important. Words hurt. Words hurt deeply, as I witnessed my sweet daughter sobbing on her bed this afternoon. But words that are good for building up give grace to those who hear, and O, how we need to hear grace from each other.
Bitterness. Wrath. Anger. Clamor. Slander. Malice. Hard words, Hurtful, hurtful behavior. These are the attitudes that create ruptures in friendships. That create divisions in churches. Notice that these things, all of them are to be put away from you. To put something away from you, is to not hang on to it any longer. It reminds me of the show “Hoarders”. In order to be well, they have to put away their trash, their rotten food, their dirty collectibles, all the harmful things put away from her: thrown away, into the dumptrucks, taken far away. It’s the same thing. The bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander and malice MUST be rooted out, shoveled out and removed.
32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
These next 3 verses are the antidote, the prescription for what Christ wants for His children. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted. But here’s the vortex: Forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.
Forgiveness is a strange creature. It is a hard thing. When we are called to forgive someone, how is it supposed to be done? In the same way that Christ forgave you. I am to forgive in exactly the same way that Christ forgave me. That means putting away those words in verse 31, whether in deed or attitude. It means being kind and tenderhearted to one another. And to need and desire to be forgiven and yet to not be forgiven is so heartbroken and devastating. I know. I know the heartache of this even right now.
So what is the answer? What is the answer to all of this? It’s found in 5:1 and 5:2. We are to be imitators of Christ. Imitators of Christ–what a huge task that may seem to be! And yet we are given all that we are needed through Christ living in us, in order to imitate or Christ through being kind, tenderhearted and forgiving one another.
Walk in love. Walk in love. Because, Christ loves us!! He loves us!! And He gave himself up for us!
What is my job as a mom to my hurting child? Love her and validate her that she is beautiful and special and loved. And then model these verses in Ephesians for her–tenderness, kindheartedness and forgiveness. Forgiveness. Such a hard thing. But if we as adults can imitate Christ and offer forgiveness and reconcilliation between ourselves, our children are watching and will imitate us and will be healthier adults for it.
I get so many things wrong in parenting. But I pray that I’ll be able to love my girl well this weekend, building her up and reassuring her that she is a beautiful young lady made especially by God for an incredible purpose in His Kingdom.