Nestled among trees in rural southern Virginia, the trailer stood sheltered and hidden from the road. It was not the distance that prevented travelers on the road from seeing the trailer. It was the trees.
She had been struggling to recover from Lyme disease, fully cognizant of the fact that the owner of the neighboring land was the first person in Virginia to die of Lyme disease. Each day was a struggle for health and strength.
One day, she decided it was time to see if she could venture out the 75-yard driveway to the mailbox. She thought she could make it this time. Before she left, she instructed her two-year old son to stay on the porch and wait for her. He knew the rules, and he usually obeyed.
Proud of the fact that she made it to the mailbox, she retrieved the mail and turned back to walk to the trailer. Only, the walk back was harder than it was coming out. She wondered if she’d make it, but she had to for her son would be waiting for her. Suddenly, she saw him.
He was no longer on the porch. He was coming out the driveway. He had disobeyed. Perhaps he was lonely, or afraid. Maybe it took her longer than he thought it should. She forced one foot in front of the other, willing herself to keep moving.
Finally, she made it back to the trailer. She was back, and he was safe. That was the most important thing.
There was, however, a predicament. He had disobeyed, and he needed to be disciplined. She was too weak, and too tired, to deal out any punishment. Yet, if there were no consequences, the next time he might go further – even out to the road.
She sat down next to her blond-headed son. When she finally could catch her breath, she said, “Son, you disobeyed Mama. You were told to stay here and not come off the porch. You did not obey. You need to be disciplined. But you know what? Today, Mama is going to show you Mercy. Today, Mama is not going to give you what you deserve. Sometimes God does that to us. When we disobey God, He shows us Mercy. Today, I am not going to discipline you. I am going to show you mercy. You must never, never come out the driveway to the road like you did today. Today you disobeyed, and I am showing you Mercy. You must never disobey me like this again.”
Was he too young to understand? Did he somehow get a glimpse of the love and care of a Father who shows us mercy when we really don’t deserve it?
This I know: this child never went that far out the lane again.
This Mama had learned to seize an unpleasant event and turn it into a practical, teachable moment.
She aced this parenting moment, and her son learned about Mercy and Forgiveness.