“From his fullness, we have all received grace upon grace.” John 1:16
Becoming a parent made me realize I tend to idolize sleep. When I’m ready to go to bed, anything that gets in the way of that had better look out. Hell hath no fury like being around Heather when she’s ready for bed. I turn into a pumpkin. The moment I became a mother ten years ago, this became problematic. Turns out, kids don’t really care about others’ feelings about sleep. My daughter was a horrific sleeper her first year of life; now she is much better but with a transition into a new school year and moving her bedroom to a new location, it had gotten a bit bumpy the last couple of weeks.
My husband was out of town one weekend and it was time for bed. My daughter asked me to hang with her for awhile as she was feeling like it was going to be difficult for her to fall asleep. Now I know I should have responded with “Why yes, it would be my greatest privilege as your mother to get to rub your back and pray over you while you drift off to a blissful sleep” but please refer to the above paragraph. And, honestly, I did have more of that mindset when the sleep problems first began a couple of weeks ago but last Friday, all I really wanted was for her to go to bed so I could get to the page-turning classic of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. My daughter could see I wasn’t really feeling this idea and had zero problem with calling me out on it. I received her rebuke and after praying together and some further “discussions”, I apologized to her for being impatient and asked if she could please extend me some grace. Thankfully she said yes, followed by a barely audible under-the-breath utterance of “For the thousandth time”. God’s grace must have washed over me because somehow I exhibited enough self-control to just continue shutting the door and not inquire “What did you say?” Or maybe I just really wanted to get to see how Harry and his friends were going to get out of this jam.
However, I just couldn’t quit thinking about her words “for the thousandth time” and switched them around in my mind to “grace times one thousand”. It reminded me of the relationship Tony Starke has with his daughter in End Game (I’m really playing all of my nerd cards in this one: Harry Potter, Marvel!). They exchange the words “Love you three thousand”. Something about quantifying an emotion that really is unquantifiable resonates with me. Perhaps because it is impossible. But the desire to do so remains. Grace times one thousand. This is how Jesus treats me. Grace times one thousand. Well, really it would be Grace times ten million. Or more! But maybe grace times one thousand for the day.
The next morning, I apologized to my daughter again and told her that while this was absolutely not her intent, she was treating me like Christ when she made her jerky comment. When we extend grace times one thousand to others, we are acting like Christ is towards us.
In the beginning of his gospel, John tells us “From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace” (John 1:16 ESV). Grace upon grace…grace times one thousand. When Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother for sinning against him (Matt 18:21-22), Peter probably thinks he is being generous when he suggests seven times. But Jesus blows that out of the water by commanding him not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Jesus is saying Don’t even keep track of how many times you have to forgive someone if they are truly repentant. Because that’s how he treats us…grace times one thousand.
Do you ever find yourself getting beat up by committing the same sin over and over again? Grace times one thousand. Is there someone that you have to forgive over and over again (like my poor daughter with her sinful mama)? Grace times one thousand.* Do you feel like God is tired of watching you stumble and fall over and over again? Grace times one thousand. Jesus Christ came and died to renew and restore all things. Our sin is serious. It disrupt our relationship with God. I expect to grow in my patience, even at bedtime, but that growth will come slowly. Until then, grace times one thousand.
*Caveat here – if you are in an abusive relationship, this is not the kind of forgiveness I am speaking of. If you are in danger, please seek help. You can reach out to someone in the Faith and Community Department or another trusted friend.