Forgive Me, Daughter, For I Have Sinned

It up and died on me. That is to say, this week’s post fizzled spectacularly. I don’t know where half-fleshed ideas go when they pass on from this plane of existence, but wherever it is, that is where the poor post has gone. Good-bye, flash of brilliance. May you rest peaceably.

Feeling incredibly lazy, I had decided to let the writing go until next week. Then I read a blog post that challenged me to use my words to encourage someone today. I thought about it for a spell. Nothing came to mind off hand. I shrugged it off and went about my duties but the thought wouldn’t let me go. So I pondered awhile longer, and as I folded the never-ending laundry, it struck me.

A couple of days ago I had been sitting with my oldest daughter by the fire. It was a drizzly day, and one of the rare occasions that we were alone in the room with nothing pressing to do. We meandered from subject to subject, enjoying each other’s company when suddenly I found myself speaking of when she was very small. As I looked at her beautiful features, I was reminded of the many mistakes I have made with her. (The beleaguered eldest always bears the brunt of novice parenting!)

Cool Claudia small

As I expressed regret for my shortcomings in her early years, she asked what I meant. Her eyes registered confusion, and I could see that she honestly didn’t remember the many things that I, unfortunately, can never forget.

The times I had yelled, rather than lovingly instructed. The times I put a clean kitchen over time with my girl baking together. The finger paints that went unopened because I didn’t want the mess. The time she spent in front of the TV while I snuck off to indulge my smoking habit. (5+ years quit now, but too late for her formative years.) The impatience with teaching her, and in the process, sometimes making her feel stupid. My intense self-centered nature that overpowered her quiet thoughtful one all too often.

Now understand that I don’t do guilt. I am not a woman who wallows in the past all that much. And I don’t cry. It does not make me feel better. Ever. Yet here I was, suddenly wanting to weep; reliving the past and seeking absolution from my daughter.

My failings as a mother can never be undone. I gazed into her wide blue eyes and felt a profound sorrow that I could never get back the times I had wasted. Sitting beside this amazing young woman, and knowing that my time with her is now registered in mere months, I was undone.

She sat there looking at me with compassion as I struggled to maintain my composure. Then she smiled, and the shameful memories were replaced with ones more recent. Trips to the mall, just hanging out because we like each other. Long talks on my bed at night about anything and everything. Watching our favorite shows on Netflix, sifting her silky hair through my fingers as her head rests in my lap.

Memories shuffled in my mind, blurring together, forming a beautiful tapestry of a life of grace. I smiled back at her in wonder. In His omniscience, my God knew each and every mistake I would make with this lovely young woman. And still He gave me the gift of being her mother.

Our God really is the restorer of all things. His mercies are new every morning. He truly has the power to restore the years the locusts have eaten. His grace does indeed rain down on me.

From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.” (John 1:16, NIV)

Addendum: As I finished polishing up this post, my daughter came up behind me and began reading. When she finished, she said this to me:

“I’m glad I don’t have a perfect mother. If you were perfect, then I would have no one to learn from; no one to inspire me. Seeing you grow gives me the desire to strive to grow as well.”

Take heart, my imperfect mommy-friends. Our God is bigger than your failings. Grace and peace to you.

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10 thoughts on “Forgive Me, Daughter, For I Have Sinned

  1. This is so great. I’d always thought time erases memories of our failings and leaves only rosy glows, but now that my boys are big, ALL I remember are my mistakes, my laziness, my crankiness, and what my boys remember is being surrounded by love and acceptance and having fun. So odd. Maybe children know when they are loved even when it is imperfectly expressed. Maybe it just proves that God uses jars of clay.
    Your daughter sounds like a treasure! What a wise young woman, and what a sweetie in that photo!

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    • I think you are right on both counts–kids do know they’re loved even when it is imperfectly expressed, and our Lord definitely uses jars of clay! Well said. Thanks for your insights, Anita. And yes, my girl is indeed a treasure! It will be hard to see her go… I’m sure there will be a blog post or two on that. 😉 Blessings to you!

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    • Yes, Christa, that will be a strange yet wonderful day. Wonderful to see you again, and so odd to be in such a different season of motherhood than when we were last together. Bittersweet: that is the word for motherhood, yes? Miss you, friend.

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