Things we care about: Confession

Last week I stole from my son, and then lied to him about it.

I love potato chips. We have a longstanding joke with our kids that their special “wish list” item chips are always safe from me because they like flavors like Jalapeño Superhot Torture, whereas I am a Lay’s Original kind of girl. It’s worked out pretty well.

Until Friday. For whatever reason, that afternoon at 3:42pm as the kids played out in the yard, I HAD to have #1 Cherubs Honey BBQ chips. HAD TO.

So I did. I got a bowl, took out some chips, and closed the package, certain he’d never notice. About 2 minutes later, as I was in the living room, reading on the couch and munching away, #1 Cherub came back in unexpectedly. So I did what any self-respecting grown woman would do. I hid the chips under a throw pillow.

Yes, you read that right.

I gave him my best, “Oh hi Honey, do you need something?” look, after which he sat down on the other couch and just sort of hung out.

After a few minutes I asked, “Have you had a snack yet?” and sent him to the kitchen, at which point I scurried into the office and hid the chips in a box that #2 Cherub was planning to use for decoupage. (I started to thank God for crafts, but then realized, No…God isn’t happy with any of this, and shut my mouth.)

“Why did you go in the office?” #1 Cherub asked. “Oh, I just wanted to give you some space in case you wanted to use your screen time,” I said breezily, in the most unlike me comment ever.  But even I sat there, watching my lies pile up one on top of another, part of me was still frustrated because I COULDN’T EAT THE CHIPS.

Eventually I smuggled the bowl of stolen chips up to our bedroom. I scoffed them down in the most shameful, pitiful way possible, then returned downstairs to start dinner. I was mortified in that cerebral sort of way where you know you’ve screwed up but are still sure it will all be fine. But it wasn’t. I started feeling sick to my stomach from snarfing down all that BBQ powder flavoring, and just sort of incredulous how a small craving had turned into a disaster so quickly. It’s true, I thought. Once you commit to one lie it’s like you’re trapped and have to keep lying. I’d never experienced it that clearly. I thought of all the conversations we’ve had with the kids about lying, and fibbing, and how being able to trick grown ups is a short term solution that doesn’t produce great results over time. I slumped down over the counter as I realized that if “LYING” was a big black monster, I’d just opened our front door and invited him in.

GAH.

I prayed, feeling small and gross.

God help me. What can I do?  I figured God would suggest that I buy #1 Cherub another bag of chips or maybe offer to do one of his nighttime chores for him.

But God wasn’t messing around. Tell him, He said. Confess this to the whole family at dinner. Just the way you’ve been telling the kids they can if they make a mistake.

Naturally, my first response was NO. WAY.  They’ll never trust me again! I protested.

They shouldn’t trust you now… God pointed out. But He wasn’t harsh. The whole conversation was gentle, but firm. I’d dug myself a whole and there really was only one way out.

We had a fun dinner that night. And as we were winding down, I said, “I have something to tell you guys. I have a confession to make…” The kids stared at me, wide-eyed. “I took #1 Cherub’s chips today,” I said. “And when you came in, I hid them, because I didn’t want you to know. And I’m really sorry, I should not have done that. Will you forgive me?”

“But that’s not LIKE you!” #2 Cherub insisted.

“Did you hide them under the pillow?” #1 Cherub asked (he’s pretty savvy). I nodded. “I knew something was up. You were way too focused on that pillow.”

After a bit more clarification of the exact nature of my sins, he forgave me. Specifically, and out loud. I told the kids I’d do all their after dinner cleanup jobs to make it up to them, because even when we’re forgiven, our actions still have consequences.  And we talked about how, once something is forgiven, it’s erased…the slate is wiped clean. How Jesus makes this possible for all of us.

You know what’s crazy? Neither Cherub has brought it up since. Not once. We’ve had multiple conversations about potato chip flavors (I finally bought my own) and made lunches and snacks, and it’s as if that awful transgression – my sin (because stealing from your kid and lying to him can’t be glossed over as a mistake, or me not at my best. It’s sin.) – never happened. I’m embarrassed that this happened, but I’m not ashamed.

That’s the power of confession. It’s one of the greatest, weirdest, most mysterious gifts that comes with life following Jesus. And I am grateful every time I see it work. We believe in this at Greenhouse Mission.

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