When a Grandma is the “honored guest” in the family van there is definitely a science to her placement. She is situated behind the son in law and diagonally behind her daughter for maximum capacity mother daughter chitchat. The youngest child is strategically placed in the captain chair, next to Grandma, for easy access to the senior “board book reader,” “sippy cup picker upper,” and “misplaced binki finder.” Her placement also happens to be directly in front of all older children as “storyteller,” “treat passer outer,” “song leader,” and “travel game enthusiast.” She is also, most importantly, the sender of all messages to the front, parental section of the car and the referee for all battles that erupt because the children are squished in the back of the car, hour after hour. This crowded situation, of course, is the result of bringing Grandma along in the first place. Though this position has its challenges, some Grandmas take to it like a duck to water. I know I do.
This summer I had the unforgettable experience of being the “honored guest” several times with multiple families. Of course, one of the most rewarding aspects of being with children, for me, is learning from what they say. Driving mile after mile through the desert with them might seem like being relegated to the traveling Primary Nursery, but for this grandma it’s like being invited into a greenhouse full of tender new thoughts.
Such seating arrangements on long trips provide opportunities for repentance and forgiveness. Most of us have grown up knowing that one of the four R’s of repentance is “Restitution.” When we repent using the 12 Steps, making restitution does not come until Step 9. If you are new to the steps you may wonder why 12 Steps are suggested when perhaps four steps were adequate in the past. Sometime the 12 Steps are referred to as “baby steps of repentance. One of the most helpful aspects of the 12 Steps in bringing about repentance and change is that each step which requires action, is preceded by a step that asks us to allow God to first prepare our hearts.
Yesterday in an Addiction Recovery Program meeting we were sharing about Step 8, which is to “Make a written list of all persons you have harmed and become willing to make restitution to them.” Mind you, this is a step that takes place in the heart and precedes any and all making of amends. In many cases, before we can possibly make restitution for the harm we have done others we have to become willing to forgive others for the harm they have done to us. The Key Principle for Step 8 is forgiveness.
As we went around the circle in the meeting, sharing both the blessings and challenges of taking Step 8, I had a thought generated by a moment experienced while sitting in my Grandma seat in the “Family Greenhouse (Van).” There I sat, minding my own business of course, when suddenly there was a scream from the back seat. There was a little skirmish amongst two of the back seat sardines. As near as I could tell, “someone” hurt Carson and Carson hurt that “someone” back. It was loud enough to reach the front seat without the aid of Grandma. Dad called back, “Carson, did you hurt your brother?”
Carson’s response was, “Ya, but you wanna know what?”
Carson had a story to tell. Relaying the story did not justify his actions or excuse him from the important task of saying he was sorry or trying to make up for hurting his brother. But, before he could be truly feel regret for his part, it was important to Carson to share his view of the situation with his dad.
Before I can honestly make amends for hurts I have caused and the wrongs I have done I have to sincerely forgive those who have hurt me. The heart of forgiveness is a gift I can seek in conversation with God. Sometimes, after I have been convicted of some offence, the first words out of my heart, directed toward my Father are “Ya, but you wanna know what?”
And He does! He wants to hear my side of the story. He knows its part of the process. I tell Him my view; I feel heard; I feel His love and understanding; Then He tells how He sees the picture. I become willing to be instructed about my part, my wrong; I feel genuinely sorry and willing to seek direction and courage to actually make amends.
I know that true repentance has to be about my sorrow for sin. Justification has no part in making Step 9 amends. But when my heart is full of hurt and my eyes are full of hot tears of anger and regret I am so grateful for a Heavenly Dad who will nod His head in the affirmative when I say, “Ya, but do you wanna know what?!?!?
By Nannette W.
Posted Thursday, November 13, 2008
Copyright 2008 by Nannette W. All right reserved.
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