“Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. (Psalm 51:1)
The folded laundry sat on their beds, mocking me, despite several requests to put it away. Wet sneakers littered the foyer I had spent the morning tidying, again. The lizard’s cage (“Oh please, Mom, let us have one!”) hadn’t been cleaned in more than two weeks. Everywhere I looked I saw defiance. And then I saw red.
“Boys! Get in here!” With that blaring call began my tirade, my litany of grievances. My wrath knew no bounds as I reprimanded my sons for indiscretions and missteps that happened weeks earlier, ending with the current state of affairs. When I finally came up for air, I glimpsed two frightened children, tears swelling in their eyes as they scurried off to “fix all the things they had done wrong.”
I wanted to feel vindicated. Instead I felt dreadful. I had lost my temper with the people I love the most, covering them in insults and mean-spirited words. I was overcome with shame and guilt.
While I know “we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23), my personal track record of unjustly dealing with my children can make me feel like a bad mother. Time and again, instead of seeking God’s compassionate example, coming alongside my children and teaching with wisdom, compassion, and encouragement, I instead attack.
Blessedly, while we are imperfect, we serve a perfect God. Our God hears our frequent cries for his mercy, and instead of building a case against us, he erases any record of our sins and makes us clean again. Instead of berating myself for being an ill-equipped mother, I am free to trust his divine plan and work on disciplining my children with compassion instead of contempt. Because God keeps no record of wrongdoing, neither should I—not against my children, or against myself.1