I know I have written about riding in the car with my children before, but in case you have missed it, riding in the car with my children is an adventure, particularly when we are going to church. It doesn't matter which church we are going to or why we are going there; I am convinced that my children consider this ride a challenge to prove that I am the biggest hypocrite under the sun. A typical ride to Royal Rangers a couple of weeks ago began with the fuzzy end of the two-sided ice-scraper/snow remover brushing my ear lightly as it slowly extended its way toward the rearview mirror.
"Get the scraper back there!" I hollered over the kids' Christmas Pageant music, struggling to compete with the words of "The Night That Jesus Came Down."
The scraper retreated toward the back, knocking my glasses from my right ear in the process. I righted my glasses and peered in the rearview mirror to catch the little one beating the big one over the head with the hard end of the scraper.
As I drew a breath to holler at the little one to cut it out, he had the gall to yell, "Mom! He(the big one)'s taking my scraper from me!"
"I'd take it too if you were using it to hit me over the head," I call back when I notice that the big one has actually opened his window and is feeding the scraper slowly outside, theoretically to dump on the highway. "But HEY! We can't throw the scraper out the window!"
The big one halts just long enough for me to swat my right arm blindly into the back of the car, seize the fuzzy end of the scraper, wrestle it out of the hands of both children while managing to somehow stay in my own lane, and drag it to the front passenger seat. By the time we finally arrived at church, I was threatening my children with imminent destruction only to turn around and see one of the lovely moms of the angelic preschoolers. Of course. I was certainly at my most Christian. *closing my eyes and wishing the ground would swallow me whole*
And this is how car trips with my children generally go.
So the other night we were headed to church again, Christmas pageant blaring, when the little one asks, "Hey, Mom? What's mercy?"
"Marcy?" I ask over the voice of Halo Hattie. "Who's Marcy?"
"No!" he cries. "Mercy!"
I attempt to turn down the volume of the CD when the big one protests, "I like the music, Mom, and I can't hear it when it's down!"
"Well," I do my best to yell to the little one. "Mercy is when you decide to be a little kinder and less punishing than you could be. The other person may deserve the hard punishment, but you choose not to give it to him. Kind of like when you do something wrong and I could take away all of your TV, but perhaps I choose to only take away TV before dinner and let you have more TV later if you can show you're good."
"Not that mercy, Mom!" he hollered. "The game!"
And that's when it hit me: How many of us use mercy or the lack of it as a punishment instead of the grace that it was always intended to be? Does my mercy look like Christ's or the game?