“How blessed are those who mourn, because it is they who will be comforted! (Matthew 5:4, ISV)
“For having sorrow in a godly way results in repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regrets. But the sorrow of the world produces death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10, ISV)
Last week I got a lesson from my 5-year-old son Levi on what it means to “have sorrow in a godly way”. My wife was out of town for a day, so he and I went to see a movie together. I think we were both tired from a long week. After the movie was over, we stopped at a grocery store, and Levi started acting up – grabbing things on shelves, running down aisles, generally acting crazy.
I have to admit I was completely annoyed and for the sake of getting him out of the store quickly without further disruption, I grabbed his hand and wouldn’t let go. He got very angry, lost his temper, and by the time we got to the car he had thrown a loud fit, and said some very hurtful things. This is where his gift for articulation can get him into trouble sometimes.
By that point, I was in control of myself enough that I didn’t yell back at him and once he got in the car, I told him that I loved him and that the words he used and things he said to me were very hurtful.
What followed might be the best, most thorough, full-bodied weeping I think I’ve ever heard, along with a full apology, at least as articulate as the previous insults.
It helped me remember what true sorrow and repentance looks like. Levi’s little heart was broken over how he had acted and what he had said.
That same week, my wife and I had a hard discussion about some things that I had done that were really hurtful to her – things I hadn’t been honest with her about and that I’m ashamed to admit brought out the cowardly part of me. As sorry as I was, I still wish I could have been as free as Levi in my demonstration of sorrow. And this is where I realize how much of a gift it is to be truly sorry, and how childlike you have to be.
This has caused me to reflect further on what it truly means to be “Abba’s Child” – to be loved exactly as I am, especially with all my shortcomings.
I realize in writing this post that I run the risk of embarrassing Levi as he gets older and reads what I’ve written here. I hope he knows, though, that I write not out of shame for how he acted, but out of pride for the love and softness I see in his heart. It’s the part of him I hope he always retains and always comes back to over the years, when he finds himself doing far worse things and not sure how his Daddy feels about him (both myself and God).
I’m also really feeling now how much God really does love me. I have to keep coming back to this because it’s a battle against both the old part of me and the enemy. But I feel like somewhere recently I crossed a line, and I’m realizing in a deeper way how much I’m really loved.
So, here’s to more sorrow and true repentance. We could all use it.