A couple months ago I was sitting on my couch and I glanced over at my oldest daughter. In that moment something caught my eye at the top of her head. There was about an inch wide chunk of hair that had been cut and was sticking straight up. Of course, I immediately asked her what happened to her hair.
In that moment I watched fear flood her face. It was as if I could see her mind racing, her thoughts panicky, pacing back and forth trying to find something acceptable to tell me. She looked me in the eye and lied. She swore she didn’t know and that somehow her hair had gotten cut without her knowledge.
Of course I knew that she wasn’t telling me the truth. I gave her that “mom look” that says, “Just tell me now before you make it worse on yourself.” I could tell that she wanted to tell me, but the fear of my disappointment and her uncertainty of the consequences were keeping her. I calmly told her, “Honey, just tell me the truth. I’m not angry with you, I just want you to be honest.” Finally, after a couple of minutes of dancing around the truth and trying to pull stories of excuses and what could have happened from thin air I watched her head drop, her eyes point to her feet, and a defeated, “Yes, I did it. I’m sorry.” come from her mouth.
When I got the real story from her she explained that while she was brushing her hair she discovered a knot that she just couldn’t get out on her own. Instead of calling on me to help her she decided to take matters into her own hands by finding a pair of scissors and cutting the knot out. She didn’t mean to cut so much. It just sort of happened. Once she realized what she had done she did her best to hide her mistake from me. And once I discovered what had happened she was afraid that I would be mad at her and punish her when she was already mad at herself.
After hearing her series of events I did the only thing that felt right. I hugged her and told her I loved her. I told her that I know there are going to be times when she messes up, but I would always rather her tell me then try and hide it or lie to me. Then I told her to go and get the brush and her basket of hair supplies and bring it to me. We sat and talked and I braided her hair, weaving her jagged chunk of hair in with the rest, making her feel beautiful again.
Admittedly, I didn’t tie this story in with my own life in the moment. For whatever reason though, the other day on my drive home from work, God reminded me of this story and how similar it is to my relationship with Him.
I thought of my daughter finding the knot and related it to me coming face to face with a problem. In those moments I have a choice. I can turn to someone much more capable than myself, God, or choose to take matters into my own hands, the scissors. And let me tell you, I’ve done my fair share of cutting metaphorical chunks out of my hair! And just like with my child’s experience, it always turns out worse when I do things myself.
In comes shame and the internal conversation with myself. “Okay, I’ve made a huge mess. I have to do everything I can to hide this. No one can know!” It always works out and no one, especially God, ever finds out… not.
Now it’s excuse’s turn to take center stage! When I’m caught, instead of just fessing up and telling the truth, my flesh always turns to pointing the finger at someone else, trying to spin the situation to make me the good guy, or justifying my sin in some way, shape, or form.
And even after all of that… the mess I made, the hiding, and the sin to try and cover up the sin, there’s God. He’s always there. Not loving me any less. Not ready and waiting to reprimand me. He’s there to embrace me, love me, encourage me to do better next time, and to braid my hair and make something beautiful out of the mess I made.