It was a gorgeous day today so I decided to take all five kids to the park to meet up with some friends. The Florida sun was shining and the cool breeze was blowing. Three hours at the park playing hard and the kids were tired and cranky. All that and I still had to go to the store on the way home so we would have something to cook on the grill for dinner. I carted the hungry, tired, cranky kids into the store and I was irked. Complaints were flying left and right and I was getting done in my mind quick.
Thankful the shopping trip was over, I threw the groceries on the front seat, the kids climbed in the car and three climbed into the back bench seat. One was yelling that she couldn't get her seatbelt on over her booster seat. Another was yelling that she felt squished between the two other kids. Finally everyone was settled for the most part and as soon as I put my foot on the gas peddle I heard a scream, yeah, a shriek. I hate when kids shriek when I'm about to drive off. But ah, well, here we are.
"My feet, my feet!" the five-year-old screams from the back seat. Immediately I wanted to blame the one in the middle, the middle on the bench seat and the middle child, the one that leans on the side of pesky, a pest. I stopped the car, snap-twisted my neck and with eyes piercing I yelled, "What are you doing now?!" to the middle child.
It turns out that the five-year-old was screaming, "My peach, my peach!" She had dropped her delicious peach and it rolled under the bucket seat in front of her and it was cause for a blood-curdling shriek of the acutest kind. My.
This is life, my life. And part of my not so nice life is this problem I have had and have been having. I have a hard time giving my kids the benefit of the doubt. I am quick to accuse them. It's hard to see past what they have done in the past and I mean what they have done as an extensive, running, continuous, seemingly never ending pattern. But I see that God has His own pattern and it is one of consistent grace for His children. I got to thinking about that. A perfect God has consistent mercy and grace for me and yet, I can't seem to overlook the past long enough to give my kids the benefit of the doubt. That isn't love and yet I know that I am human and am prone to error and God understands that and He wants to help me, but still...
That's what love does. It gives the benefit of the doubt to children, those who are weak, those who have failed, those who have sinned. Love extends grace to others. And I know what it is like not to be given the benefit of the doubt and in some cases, not even for a millisecond. Not receiving that benefit can take you to a horrible place of self doubt when people think you are up to no good when they don't know all the facts or understand all that has taken place in your life and where you may be in the present. I am sure that I have also not given others this benefit, this grace extension of love like I should have. But still...
I should and I want to give this benefit I am definitely receiving myself.
"Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, even the God of our salvation." ~Psalm 68:19