Third Monday of Advent: Pulling Over
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
—Colossians 3:12-14 (Read Colossians 3)
“Give that baaaaaccccckkkk!!! Mommy!!!! Hannah has my stickers!!!!”
It is in the smallest of moments in my day that I most often glimpse the values of the Kingdom—and, in equal measure, my need for God’s grace. Recently I decided that I needed to make some adjustments to my behavior in the car. Or more specifically, to how I respond to my children in the car.
I am a mom of two little girls, ages five and eight. And at times, my girls like to pick at each other. Thus the blood-curdling scream about stickers. When they start picking at each other and stop listening to anything I say, it is usually at the end of a long day when we have 25 minutes left in the car, in rush hour traffic, trying to get home.
Patience is a virtue, but plenty of times, it is not mine.
I am not too proud to admit that multiple times, I have slammed on the brakes, whipped my head around and yelled, “STOOOOOPPPPPPP ITTTTT!! I cannot take this anymore! When we get home you are going straight to your rooms!”
I lose control, leaving two wide-eyed little girls in my wake.
Thank God for His continually offered forgiveness.
When Peter asks Jesus how many times is he to forgive his brother, Jesus replies, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times seven” (Matthew 18:22). Jesus is making the point that our forgiveness should not have limits. We can choose to forgive over and over and over. That is what love does. That is what Jesus does for us.
We extend forgiveness—and patience—to others, because God is forgiving and patient with us. In response, we are called to clothe ourselves with the character of Christ.
I was not happy with my lack of patience with the little girls the Lord has called me to steward. So I decided I needed to have a plan.
In those moments when my girls are yelling at each other in the car, putting on Christ means pulling my car over. It means waiting patiently until they quiet down and then having a loving conversation about how they are acting. It means choosing to bear with them in their sin, putting on compassion and kindness.
And you know what it also means? It means allowing myself to receive forgiveness from them in the times when I don’t choose Kingdom behavior. It means looking those sweet girls in the eyes and saying, “Mommy lost control. I should not have yelled. Do you forgive me?”
In those moments when I receive forgiveness from my kids, they are learning to mirror Jesus to me. Over and over and over, we bear with one other, and however imperfectly, we model Christ to each other. He redeems our sin and teaches us in the midst of it. Thanks be to God.
The quiet, mostly unnoticed way God brought redemption into the world shows us something about where God places value. Things that go unnoticed by most of us are important to God.
How I behave in my car matters.
Each day, we have many opportunities to choose our “clothing.” We can choose small acts of forgiveness, both to extend and to receive. We can choose to put off sinful attitudes and try on something else.
We can choose to calmly stop the car.
And one day, on the next Advent of Christ, all of our striving to put off impatience will cease. Daily, I look forward to that Advent. Daily, I long for Christ’s return. This is what gives me joy and hope in my parenting: Jesus is with us.
And He is coming again.
Beth Walker has worked for the CCO for 13 years, currently serving as Director of Support Raising. She is married to Torrey, and is the mother of eight-year-old Lydia and five-year-old Hannah as well as to 247 pounds of dog.