My daughter is always writing me letters. Both of my kids do, actually. Taylor’s letters, however, often carry one common theme – The need for acceptance. Because I get these kinds of letters from her on a weekly basis, I usually give them a quick read, answer whatever questions she asked on the paper, and move on with our day.
However, this note stood out to me as a bit different. Here is a copy of the letter, which she agreed to let me post.
In case you have a hard time reading 2nd grade writing (as anyone without a 2nd grader would), here is the translation:
“Taylor Costa – I love you, Mom, so much. The red stands for love. I want to be good from now on, and I am sorry for all my sins I have done, and I will never do them again ever, ever, ever again. I’ve been trying to fix my behavior up. I hope it works good. I just want you to forgive my sins. Do you believe that I will fix my behavior up? Yes or No”
This letter really struck me. First of all, I had no idea what inspired the letter, leaving me to wonder if there’s a confession coming in the near future! It surprised me because, if anyone should’ve been remorseful this weekend, it should have been my son. After all, he’s the one that caused us to leave his school’s Mother-Son Dance early, due to discriminatory language towards a child in front of the child’s mother! The woman was rightfully upset that her son was in tears on the dance floor, and she addressed me with the amount of emotion that one would expect, given the situation.
It never ceases to amaze me that I can still feel embarrassed by my children’s behaviors. Just when I think we’ve rounded a corner or that I couldn’t possibly be mortified any more in public than I already have been, that’s when another round of humiliation tends to occur.
I let the woman give my son a verbal lashing – partly because I was so angry that I didn’t trust my own words, and partly because she needed that outlet. She recognized during our conversation that I am a mother of action – I won’t sit idly by and allow my child to disparage another. So, I allowed her the words she needed to say to him, and then we left the dance.
And trust me, there were many more words to be had that night.
But back to Taylor’s letter. What had she done that required my forgiveness? And why was she asking me to forgive her sins, knowing full well that Jesus is the one that cleanses hearts, not I.
I decided we’d chat about her letter so I could have a better understanding of where she was coming from. Taylor assured me there was no new confession coming (Phew!) but that Sunday’s church service had made her start thinking about her actions. And that day, she had been praying (at school, nonetheless… let’s hear it for prayer in a public school by an 8-year-old!) and she felt that she wanted to change her life. She wanted me to forgive her for all her past behaviors and she wanted that acceptance from me – she wanted to know that I didn’t hold a grudge, and that I believed in her and that she was capable of changing.
I don’t know about you, but as a parent, I’ve held grudges. I know it’s wrong. I know it’s childish. I also know it’s human. And I’ve fallen prey to my humanity many times with these children of mine! They came to us with issues that were far beyond what we ever could have imagined, yet when we chose to adopt them, we chose to take them as they were – sins and all. Because isn’t that how God took us when we were adopted into His family?
Yet God doesn’t hold grudges, and I had. Worst of all, my daughter was aware of that fact. Her letter was a peace offering. It wasn’t the normal overly-decorated card she’d hand me each week, donned with new vocabulary words she’d learned that day in school. This was different.
My daughter had prayed. She found conviction. And she wanted forgiveness. She wanted to mend our relationship, and she needed to know that I was all in… that I believed in her.
It was a very emotional letter from a little girl to her Mom. And in that moment, I felt convicted of my own sins – the grudges I’d held onto, knowing that the previous apologies always led back to the same behaviors time and time again. But this time, this time she was asking for me to have faith in her. More so, she was asking me to have faith that God was altering her heart and that she was honestly trying to change.
Without another word, I took my pen and circled the word ‘Yes’ that she had written at the bottom of her letter. The smile that came across her face was beautiful. Grudges were dismissed and “sins were forgiven”… not because I could cleanse her heart, but because I realized that God had already done so.
Even in those days that are difficult and we find ourselves being chewed out by angry parents, God always seems to provide a loophole in the defeat. Through the simple letter of my daughter, God renewed my faith that He was indeed doing a work in our family – each and every one of us.
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