Our two year old daughter Madi likes to yell at us. A lot.
A few weeks ago she was on a uniquely shrill and painful yelling streak. Nothing was going right. Madi has a huge personality and a rowdy temper also, so when she’s upset at home everyone knows it, sometimes even a block down the road from our house! I think this kiddo has my wild and crazy DNA please pray for us!
We tried to give her food. She yelled “nooooo!” and threw it on the floor. Even her favorites- cheese sticks, apple juice, and potato chips weren’t good enough! We read Elmo to her, put Elmo on the TV, and sang Elmo songs to her. That didn’t work either, and it usually does! After all, there’s something mesmerizing about that red monster muppet puppet!
We got frustrated with her. We put her in time outs as she yelled and screamed. We checked her diaper often. We scolded her. Nothing would solve it. Nothing would work.
Exhausted, the day was finally over and I was trying to put Madi to bed. I’m the one in our family that puts her to bed every night that I can. I read her a book and sing to her until she falls asleep every night that I’m able to do so, and I make it a priority so it happens most nights.
And still, at bedtime, Madi was screaming, yelling, and angry. Exasperated, I asked her firmly, “What is the matter with you???”
“Teef… Hurt Daddy… My teef hurt…” She replied.
Tears of repentance from the Spirit filled my eyes as my countenance towards her changed. “Oh Madi, I’m so so so sorry! I’ll get you some milk and some Ibuprofen!” She laughed with glee that she was being understood! I went into our kitchen and filled up a two year old sized dose of children’s Motrin and filled up a sippy cup with whole milk. I brought it to her. “Thank you Daddy”, she said. From there I was able to play guitar and sing to her as her pain ceased a little and she drifted off to sleep.
Madi was doing a lot of things that day. She had a lot of symptoms of something wrong. She was acting out. She was misbehaving. She wasn’t listening. She was yelling. She was being unreasonable. She was frustrating my wife and I.
But why? Because her teeth were in major pain. Many toddlers show no signs of pain while teething. However, when their two year old molars come through, it can be particularly painful, leading to crankiness and irritability. Madi’s young age combined with what she was experiencing gave her every right to act the way she was… Well… sort of! But Sarah and I were misdiagnosing her problem. When we got to the root it all made sense and all her other problems came into focus.
Lots of people do lots of silly things. We judge each other. We falsely accuse each other. We rip each other down with our words. We gossip about one another. We slander one another. We let hatred fill our hearts. We let greed fill our hearts. We pursue destructive addictions despite the wish that we could change. We run to sexual pleasure or materialism to numb the pain. We act passive aggressive. We act aggressive. We act fake. We hyper spiritualize. We shun. We seek our own agenda.
But at the root of all our crazy behavior, we really just want to be forgiven. We want to know we’re fully forgiven. We want this to be a reality. We want cosmic, eternal forgiveness, and we want to experience forgiveness between ourselves and those around us. It’s a deep longing within all of us.
And Jesus offers us full forgiveness. Nobody else in the Universe does. And not only do those of us who don’t believe in Him need and yearn for this forgiveness, but those of us who do believe in Him need to constantly be reminded of this forgiveness that He offers!
Not only does Jesus offer full forgiveness to us. He makes full forgiveness supernaturally possible within us. Because of the Holy Spirit living in us He is able to forgive others through us in ways that we simply would never do on our own. (Matt. 6:14-15; 18:15-35; 26:28, Luke 17:1-4; 23:34) We gotta lean into Him not only to be able to correctly diagnose the problems of others, but to have Him correctly diagnose the problems within ourselves! (Matt. 7:1-6)
And Jesus didn’t just come to heal our forgiveness problem- which is one of the biggest things He could possibly cosmically heal! He physically healed people. He treated the root problems and the symptoms. All the time.