One day while driving in our van, Karsyn found a sheet of stickers. They were bright and colorful and way too tempting for a soon-to-be three-year-old to resist. She looked at me and asked if she could play with them. Knowing K’s history with stickers (she can stick 47 of them all over her body, hair, and clothing), I did NOT want to end up peeling them from her hair when we got home that evening at bedtime. I told her she could have TWO stickers and no more.
She questioned me and said, “I can have two stickers, Mommy?” to which I answered “yes, two stickers”. She spent a few minutes picking out the two she wanted, and sticking them on her shirt. Then she started asking for more. I decided this was one of those instances where I was going to stick to my guns and not change what I had said, so I reminded her once again that she could only have two stickers tonight.
I watched her in the mirror wondering what she would do next. As she glanced at me out of the corner of her eye, she began peeling a sticker off and sticking it on her shirt. She didn’t realize I had seen her and she grabbed another.
You may be thinking ‘what in the world is the big deal? Why can’t the kid have more than two stickers?’. Well, we are trying diligently to teach K that we mean what we say. That the boundaries we set for her are not negotiable and that she needs to obey us when we give her limits. I whole heartedly agree with Dr. James Dobson when he says that we need to choose our battles and then win decisively.
Is every situation one in which I will not bend? No, but in this one, it became an issue of her disobedience.
I turned off the radio and pulled off the road. By this point, Karsyn was beginning to know that I was on to her. I calmly asked her what she was doing to which she answered “ummm…nothing”. I asked her if she had taken more than two stickers and immediately her bottom lip began trembling. She started to cry and confessed to me in short phrases in between her cries. “yes…I did, Mommy…I took more than two”. I silently was cheering that she told the truth, but waited for what she would say next. I spoke with her about the importance of obeying Mommy just like Mommy has to obey God, about why we need to listen, and the whole spiel. At this point she is really crying. In my mind, I’m thinking that it’s because she thinks she’s in trouble and is afraid of being punished. Finally, she looks up at me and through her tears says “Mommy…I disobeyed…I’m so sad”. I asked her why and she said, “I disobeyed…I don’t want to hurt God’s feelings…I love Him…I don’t want to disobey”.
At that moment, I felt like a small battle had definitely been won. She knew she had done wrong, but more than that, she was more concerned with the fact that she had sinned and offended God than that she was afraid of being punished.
Since that day I’ve thought of this experience many times. My little girl who wasn’t quite three years old was completely broken over having done wrong. I have to ask myself, when I do wrong and sin against God, am I broken? Do I even stop to consider it before throwing up a half-hearted prayer for forgiveness?
You see, repentance isn’t a quick prayer or a get-out-of-jail free card. It’s complete brokenness- a desire for a change of heart and a passionate detest of one’s sin. Once again, God used this strong-willed little girl to teach me His truths. Acts 3:19 says “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord”. May each of us be as broken over our sins and our disobedience as my sweet little girl was that day.