As a child I often found myself the overnight guest of my best friend. She was an only child and I the middle of five. She lived with her parents and her maternal grandparents and I saw her as the center of their world. I so enjoyed my time in the midst of their love and laughter. While I very much felt at home there, I was still bound by the rules of my upbringing, one of which was very difficult to follow on a particular morning.
My friend had fixed my breakfast. Instant oatmeal. My mother often made oatmeal for us but it was the real kind – old fashioned Quaker Oats that had to be cooked on the stove. I don’t believe I had ever tasted instant oatmeal prior to that day and I must admit I found it awful. It was mushy and flavorless and no matter how much milk or salt or butter or sugar I added, it still tasted terrible. And while I could hardly swallow it, I stuck to the training of being a good guest, determined to eat what was served. I certainly did not want to hurt my friend’s feelings and made a valiant effort not to let my face show that I found her oatmeal disgusting. I failed. One look from her Granny and she exclaimed “Get her something else to eat! She’s gagging!!” Granny rescued me and I was ever so thankful.
This morning I read an article that made my heart hurt. It was just one of the many stories and posts so prevalent in today’s culture that I find hard to swallow – the public shaming of a child. A child’s photo posted on the internet for all the world to see, their actions recounted for all the world to read, their souls most surely wounded. I ache for them.
I confess, I used methods of correction with my children that I now see were too harsh. I was a very strict disciplinarian who now wishes she had been gentler and kinder. I’m sure every parent looking back would change quite a few things. But I was a mother raising children quite a few years before the internet. The disciplines done in the privacy of our home were not events that were broadcast to the world. Oh, we young mothers talked among ourselves about what our children did and how we handled it. But it was never with the intention to humiliate them into obedience. We didn’t use shame as a method of correction. We didn’t publish their sins.
Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others]. 1 Peter 4:8
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that correction is absent. As parents we correct. As teachers and employers and friends there are times that actions must be confronted and redirected. But living in the kind of love just mentioned will lead us to deal with the issues at hand while also protecting the one who has erred, giving them mercy instead of shame. This love refuses to broadcast their mistakes. This love is full of grace.
I will be merciful and gracious toward their sins and I will remember their deeds of unrighteousness no more. Hebrews 8:12
Jesus gave His life to provide our absolute, complete forgiveness and promised to remember our sins no more!! His forgiveness doesn’t mean correction is absent. But He bore the shame and humiliation of our sin and therefore He will never use those as a method to correct us. He gently leads and corrects and guides. His love covers ALL our sin.
He rescued me and I am ever so thankful.