“I do realize the pain I can cause…”
“I’ve disappointed you…”
“You say you’re proud of me, but why? I’m trying to remember the last good thing I’ve done.”
These were my own words, penned from a heart that desired to do right but couldn’t seem to get there. I ran across this letter, written to my father when I was just 16 years old, in a box of mementos given to me by my stepmother more than a year after his death. I couldn’t believe he kept that letter all these years.
Now on the other end, as a parent with children who have probably felt some of the same things, I get it. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago my own 19-year-old daughter expressed to me that even though I tell her how proud I am of her, she still feels like she’s a disappointment to us. It can be difficult to separate the disappointment we have in our children’s choices from them as a person.
I made some pretty bad choices myself as a teenager. Yet my dad would tell me he was proud of me. Perhaps what he was really saying is that he saw the potential in me. He saw the places where I shined, more than those dark places.
I won’t lie. My daughter can certainly stir things up. Sometimes it causes chaos, anger and hurt. Yet I can still tell her that I’m proud of her. Why? I see beyond the surface stuff. I see the places she has overcome and done well. Sure, I can get caught up in all her wrongs and fixate on those…but God nudges me back to grace.
The words I wrote when I was 16 years old could be echoed today, to my Heavenly Father. I’m sure I’ve caused Him pain and disappointment. I know there are times it seems like goodness is so far from me. But I know…because of His Word…that He loves me anyway. My heart is able to receive this truth. Why? Because grace overshadows my shame.