Well, it happened. Just as I knew it would. I expected it in much the same way as one person watches another person blow a balloon up way too much . . . the cringe before the "pop" . . . I waited and it happened.
Lemuel told his first big lie since returning home from treatment. "What's the big deal?" you might ask. "Kids lie" you might say. Yes, some do. For Lemuel, lying is a symptom of a bigger issue. He just can't seem to trust. The lie he told is not what's important, though. It's what God did in the hearts of those of us in command over here. Bear in mind two things. First, we are fairly strict parents. We are coming from years of "Growing Kids God's Way" , detoxing if you will, and have to work hard not to be overly legalistic with our children. Second, for us lying is one of the ugliest offenses we encounter simply because of the heart from which a lie springs - selfish, fearful, unwilling to trust, wanton and uncaring. Just plain old fashioned SINFUL.
When Lemuel decided to lie right to my face yesterday, I felt the Lord so strongly speak to my heart that it actually startled me. I was just about to impose a punishment for the lie when God literally shut my mouth and impressed on my heart to "love him through this one". Internally, I argued with God thinking "okay, I'm going to give this kid hugs and kisses and a free pass to lie? LIE? One of the behaviors I abhor the most?"
"That's exactly what you're going to do", He impressed on my heart. So I did. The response was not what I expected. Lemuel began to panic! He said "I'm not the same as before I went to treatment. I'm not going to tell any more lies. I don't know why I do but I'm going to stop. It makes you not feel close to me when I lie and I don't like that!". He was speaking too fast and breathing hard. I have NEVER seen him show genuine repentance, especially right after an offense. Any glimmer of regret usually comes hours later, after he's had time to strategize a little. I assured him that lying to us won't send him back to treatment (I wondered if his strong response was due to the fear of being taken back). But he said "I'm not thinking about that. I'm thinking about how I want to show everyone that I can tell the truth." And that was that. We moved on.
For THIS offense, for THIS day, that was enough. When he lies again, and I do believe he will ( it's so much a part of his coping and defense mechanisms) we will have to weigh the response carefully. Showing mercy was exactly what was required for this "first offense" after treatment - a little testing of the waters for all of us.
Extending mercy felt just right in this situation. Receiving mercy always feels good, albeit humbling.
I should know. I receive it all the time from my Heavenly Father and from these precious people he's fashioned into my family. I am counting on the principle of sewing and reaping on this one:
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." Sermon on the Mount.
Lord, thank you for your mercy that is new every morning. Please give us wisdom to know when mercy is fitting and when justice is required. My constant prayer . . . MORE OF YOU, LESS OF ME!