It started in November of last year.
I felt myself getting more and more angry because of the bad choices our foster son was making. Everything he did I took as a personal attack on me, and my fuse got shorter and shorter to the point where no matter what he did, I was unforgiving and judgmental. I stopped listening to his excuses and refused to believe that there was another side to any of the stories he told. He could no longer do anything right in my eyes, and I had this ugly, unrighteous anger boiling over constantly from the depths of my heart.
My personal relationships suffered the most. I stopped reading my bible. My husband and I couldn't agree on what to do about anything that our son was doing, and we started fighting more and more. Our other son got angry as well, but mostly at us for the abrupt changes in our personalities. Even the dogs got fussier.
So unhealthy. So unbalanced. So unfair.
I felt like a Charlie Brown character with the scribbles in a word balloon over my head, or like the character who has the raincloud that follows them everywhere they go. The pit I was digging just kept getting deeper and deeper, and I wasn't talking to anyone about it. Instead I sat at the bottom and stewed about how mad I was, and I got angry - a lot.
That's when I heard it. Deep in the darkness of that bottomless pit, I heard it. Over the constant clamoring of my unreasonable angry ranting floated the still, quiet voice of God whispering one word, over and over and over:
But I didn't want to be merciful. I wanted to be angry. Angry at this child who had lived with us for 10 months and still didn't follow our rules. Angry at this boy who had lived in 5 different homes in 6 years, only to be used and discarded like trash again and again by people who said they 'loved' him. Angry at this man-child who, for 16 years had never truly known the meaning of love or family or self-worth. This child who had spent all of those years building walls to protect himself, knowing in his heart that we would be just like all the rest of the families that had rejected him. The families who had given him back because he was a troublemaker and would never be any good.
I wanted to stay angry because it was the easiest thing to be. That way, I could give up on him and not feel bad about it, having given it my 'best shot'.
Really, it hit me like a Mack truck: What if God had decided to be angry instead of merciful all of the times I had turned my back on Him, had lied to Him, had done things that had completely gone against His will? What if He decided I would get what I deserved - where would I be then?
God hasn't given up on me, and I am so unbelievably humbled and grateful for that, because if I were in His shoes, I would have given up on me along time ago, having given it my 'best shot'.
So I'm not giving up on this boy, no matter how hard he pushes me to do so. Because I know that he pushes me the same way that I push against my Father who refuses to give up on me. And if I truly want to grow to be like Him, I have to be willing to give mercy, even as I receive it.
My heart feels lighter now that I have let go of the knots of anger that were tied around it. My relationships are better, and my days seem brighter. Our son still makes bad decisions, but by showing mercy, I can see the good ones he makes as well. My eyes are opened wider and the light is back. I can see what I'm supposed to be learning through this: to be less judgmental and more forgiving.
To show mercy.