July 6, 2012

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Remember, God always finds us lovable—no matter what

Patti LambWeeks ago, my 7-year-old son, Henry, made a not so great choice as we all do at times.

But part of my job as his mom is to provide discipline so I took away some of his most prized privileges like video games and television time.

This only made his mood worse, and prompted him to produce angry glares and eye rolls whenever I walked through the room. Once, he stuck his tongue out at me from behind a Lego box, but I pretended not to see him.

The looks waned, but then he gave me the silent treatment for the remainder of the day.

That night, as I tucked him into bed, I said, “Good night” and “I love you.”

He remained quiet.

“Good night, Henry,” I said again and, this time, I stressed the “I love you.”

He gave no response.

One final time, I said, “I love you.”

Finally, he gave a muffled, “Night,” and rolled away so his back was toward me. He would not acknowledge my love.

It stung.

Later that same night, I checked my e-mail and my cousin had sent me a beautiful Swedish proverb. It said, “Love me when I least deserve it because that is when I really need it.”

I thought about my son’s behavior that day and how, for very different reasons, there are times when all of us can make ourselves a bit difficult to love.

Perhaps we are stressed out with work and, as a result, we snap easily at others. Or maybe we are grieving a loss, and consequently lose our confidence and spunk. I speak from my own mistakes and experience when I say that there are days—and even weeks—when we are not our best selves.

But I always find particular hope in the parable of the prodigal son (Lk 15:11-32). When the son doesn’t make the greatest choices and strays, the father never loses his love for the son. In fact, when the son returns, his father throws a party and rejoices.

The good news is that God always finds us loveable even when we aren’t necessarily deserving of love by human standards.

St. Paul tells us that nothing will separate us from the love of God (Rom 8:38-39).

God will not give up on us. This simple truth renews my hope, especially when I mess up, which is more often than I would like to admit. I usually don’t realize how important it is to extend forgiveness to others until I’m in need of it myself.

And this brings me to one of my favorite quotes. “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely, and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

That quote is attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, but I’m certain the Holy Spirit inspired him to say it.

God is with us and behind us even when we least deserve his love. So, instead of carrying around the guilt and shame, we must get right with God in our hearts and then shake off that unlovable feeling. We must start again.

I returned to my son’s room. He was still awake.

“Today was a doozy,” I said, “so let’s start fresh tomorrow—both of us.”

“What do you say?” I asked.

He nodded.

I winked.

It was settled.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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