I was recently with a group of children my trio's age. As we talked, one of the more vocal boys offered abruptly, "You know the problem with (insert one of my kids' names here) is (insert a true character struggle here)."
I was taken aback--but such is the brutal honesty of children. Thankfully, the child being discussed was nowhere within earshot.
I struggled for a moment with the appropriate response. While unsolicited and cringe-inducing, the observation was on target. I am quite aware of the particular struggle he mentioned--and so is my child. We've discussed it, cried about it and prayed about it for years (literally). As a result, I also happen to appreciate that the issue is SO MUCH better than it once was.
As a loving parent, this kid's comment reminded me not of my own child's faults as much as his progress. So, that's how I chose to respond. I told my little friend that it was indeed a hard thing for my son, but that he was really working on it. I added that I bet if I talked to his mother she could tell me things that challenged him too. :-)
While it is easy to just write off this young tattletale as immature and move on, yesterday morning it occurred to me that God likely feels the same protective and loving way about His children that the encounter made me feel about mine.
When I hurt/offend/annoy someone and they go to my Father to complain/pray about me, it warms my heart to think of the Lord who delights in me (Zephaniah 3:17) shaking His head with a loving affirmation of their observation....Yes, I know. That's really hard for Jennifer. She & I have been working on that for a while. She's not there yet, but she has come a long way.
Maybe it's far fetched to imagine this type of response from the God of the Universe...but indulge me for a minute. Isn't that a picture of grace?
I, too, can be a tattle tale. Lord, one of your children is NOT behaving. You know what her problem is... (Of course, I have learned how to dress this up in pretty Christianese...but this is the heart of my complaint sometimes.)
What if in the times I find myself praying to God about the character struggles of another, I spoke with a recognition of His tender love for them? It doesn't feel natural, but it is the essence of the Golden Rule--treating others the way I want them to treat me.
Oh, how I imagine it might soften my heart towards the one who has offended me! (And I know I would certainly appreciate it if those I have hurt gracefully sought to believe the best of my intentions as well.)