We're Not Allowed to Use the "R" Word Anymore

We used to be able to say the word "ass" without getting our mouths washed out with soap. We used to use the word "gay" without someone running to find their rainbow flag.

And then there's the "R" word: REPENT.

Which one do you see when you hear "repent?"
Did you just shudder? What image came to mind when you heard it? The one on the left, or the one on the right? Since when is this such a horrible concept? Let me tell you a little story about one of my sons, his homework, a chat room, and me getting taught a lesson about parenting. It all started like this...


First, technology sucks. Let me get that off my chest first. (Takes deep breath.)

Tech abounds in our household. We all have smart-phones, we have satellite TV, we have a pseudo-vintage Atari, we have a Playstation, we have a Wii. Some of us also have iPods, and we have more computers than bodies, even if you count the dogs. And the fish.

Sure, we limit media time, and we're not loosey-goosey about it. But when my sons' homework involves a Spanish, Math, History, Science, or Language Arts activity (basically everything except P.E.), a computer is involved and it's hard to keep an eye on it. One would think that a home-schooling mom has the advantage, since I'm home with the kids all day. Wrong.

Each morning, the kids plop down on the kitchen table with their laptops (conveniently) facing away from me. I know they're being tricky when their fingers are hammering away at the keyboard, and they're giggling. History isn't nearly that funny.

I usually give an exaggerated sigh, and remind them that the computer screen is to be facing me, so that I can see exactly what they're working on, and they grudgingly comply, hoping I'll forget the next day. Or the day after that. Or the day after that. You get the idea.

The other day, one of my boys was Rosetta Stoning himself on my computer. Why my computer, you ask? Because two days prior, he was goofing around instead of doing schoolwork, and dumb-kid was using his smart-phone to do the metric-to-standard conversions in his math lesson instead of figuring it out himself. Busted. Tech is mine for a week, son. Sorry, not sorry.

Back to Spanish. I could hear "El escribe. Ella corre. Hola!" from the other room. I smiled, pleased that the boys were working away at lessons. I set aside what I wanted to accomplish for the day, and did their chores for them, explaining I was giving them an example of how family helps each other out. Every moment is a teaching moment, am I right? I was a chump.

When Spanish lessons were done, the boy escaped downstairs to play with legos (cute, right?). I sat down to my computer to check email, only to see a chat app called Discord on screen. The conversation wasn't racy, but it was certainly flirtatious. There was a photo of a bleach blonde Asian boy wearing a crown of flowers on his head. My son had responded, "OMG. It's Asian Jesus." I didn't like that. Calling him upstairs, we talked. Okay, actually I yelled. With gusto. I felt cheated, betrayed, tricked, angry, scared, hurt...all the painful parenting feels, and none of the good ones.

Let me give you a little back-story here. That morning, I had experienced a wonderful moment of prayer. In the previous couple of weeks, prayer hadn't been as deep and meaningful to me. I felt like prayer time had devolved into a stale listing of people whom I care about (even some I don't particularly like) who don't know Jesus. I always include my kids and my husband - and my dogs - because I love them all. They know Jesus. But still, what if...? Lord, have mercy.

So I asked God if I could stop praying for the list of people, and instead focus on what He puts on my heart. After seven months of the same people (give or take), God surely knows who I'm praying for. I asked for a "sign" that I could stop worrying about my teenage boys, which is a bit of a joke if you're a mom. Let me know if you've ever stopped worrying, and how you've accomplished it.

Well, I told God that I would step out in faith, trusting that He would work in the lives of my loved ones, and not-so-loved ones. Instantly, I was flooded with powerful waves of peace, worship, and joy. No joke. Tears were streaming down my face as I was reminded of how good and loving God is. What a rush!

Well. I got my sign later that same day. My kid was sneaky-sneaking on a chat room with East Coast some girl who, for all I know, has a moustache and a winky and is lurking around the corner. I did what any (crazy) mom would do, I chatted with her, asking her why she wasn't in school, and could I please talk with her parents? She apologized, said she was twelve, and that her parents don't speak English. RED FLAG.

I questioned my boy, and he says she told him she was 13, and she probably lied to me because she didn't want me to think she and my son were boyfriend and girlfriend. RED FLAG. When I asked what language her parents speak, my son said, "Her mom speaks Korean and her dad speaks Spanish." OH MY GOODNESS RED-FREAKING-FLAG. I calmly respond, "So, neither speaks English, apparently they communicate in hand gestures together, and she's proven that she'll lie. Can you see how I would be worried that she isn't the person you think she is?" He cocks his head and asks if we're racist.

He's also given her his cell phone number. Y'know. With an area code. And goodness knows what else. All of this, in spite of all the warnings I've given my kids about the long-game played by villains on the internet. I'm horrified. I'm scared. Watch what happens next when I tell my son that he is going to log in, deactivate his account, and lose his computer and cell phone. He says:

"I have one statement. Why the F*** do I have to live in a household with a bunch of F***ing fascists?"

I went nuclear, listing how much freedom he has, and all the lovely things he has in his upper-middle class Western life, and sent him to his room. For eternity. He's never spoken to us like that.

I prayed, and prayed. "God, how am I supposed to parent in this situation? Why is it that when the Holy Spirit tells me I'm doing something wrong, it's so easy to hear? But when I tell my son that he's making a mistake, he doesn't listen until the volume is on 10?"

Repentance
was my answer, and I replied mentally, Repent? For being mad? For yelling? Am I not justified in being angry about what he's done? It's dangerous, it's dishonest! Surely you don't mean he should get away with this! What am I supposed to repent for, exactly? I went to bed, frustrated. (Did you see how quickly I rejected the word repentance, and plunged into a guilt/justification cycle? Just like Job.)

Two-o'clock in the morning, and I was awake again. So I prayed again, worried about this "sign." This time I got an answer: The sign I gave you was peace, remember? Why do you think your fight with your son was a sign from me? Have I EVER done that to you?

Oh. That was Satan screwing with my head, again. OK. Relieved, I went back to bed.

Eight-thirty rolls around and I can hear my wayward son carrying on (see what I did, there?) with my husband in the kitchen. I linger in bed because I still don't know how to parent my way out of this. After 30 minutes of YouTube videos that I really didn't need to watch, there's a soft knock on the door. My son entered with a cup of coffee and a hand written note about how sorry he was that he was such a jerk. His word, not mine. There's a post-script that says his apology is 100% genuine, and nobody asked him to write it.

Repentance.

You didn't think I'd show you a picture
of me hugging my kid in my jammies,
with messy hair, did you? Nope.
He climbed onto the bed and we hugged. I don't know which of us was more relieved to be back in "right standing" with each other. Probably me, because I was the one crying. I realized how much I hated being emotionally separated from my son because he had done something that he shouldn't have, and he didn't want to repent of it.

Do you see?

That was the parenting lesson. It's how God parents us. We can't be in right standing with Him unless we demonstrate repentance.

That
is why Jesus died on the cross for us - to give us a path for repentance.

That is why repentance can no longer sound like the accusation hurled at us across the pulpit, making us feel dirty and shameful. How did it ever become that? Who do you think is behind the perversion of that word? Satan. What do you think he's trying to prevent, when he makes the "R" word so distasteful? Your relationship with God.

Repentance is Jesus, holding out his hand to pull us close to him. It's offered because he misses us when we're separated from him.

Repentance is the most beautiful word in the world.

Embrace it.



Comments

  1. What a great life lesson, and there's huge take-away here for me. I don't think I'll ever forget this image... Thank you!

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  2. I love it J! I hadn't really dwelt on the connotation of the word "repentance" until now. Then I realized I had the image on the left as being my view, rather than the right. Wow! The next question of where DID I get that image is somewhat left unanswered. I mean, those folks standing on the street corner with a sign emblazoned in large, scrawled, capital letters to REPENT or else, aren't making the case to me verbally, so I don't "hear" the word. Nor did I grow up in a faith based family that made me feel guilty because I should be repenting my every action. Next, was the word. I said it out loud. Well, it does have a harsh tone to it; emphasis on the "pent". Off to the dictionary I went, because like you, I have that weird need to follow EVERYTHING to its end. From the American Dictionary-Pent: penned or closely shut up: closely confined. From MW Dictionary-Re: Again or against. (no, I didn't look up repent because I wanted to do this on my own). AHA! I literally took the scary out of the word and what I came away with is this: To release from being held/retarded by something, and I can expect that release to be something I should be doing more than once! Repentance gets you steps closer to Jesus rather than being held at arm's distance by a word; a word which is no longer harsh or scary but is the promise of pleasing Him! What a freeing thought and thanks as always for giving me food to chew on!

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