• Marnie Hammar

Throwing Darts, Receiving Grace


My middle son and his friend were playing in the basement, throwing darts and larger objects that should not be thrown—like plastic bats—when one landed solidly and impressively against the screen of the TV. A bullet-hole shaped imprint on the screen, with feathered lines splayed out from the center, tells the tale of the game gone awry. ⁠⠀

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“I ruin everything,” he said.⁠⠀

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I asked him to sit with me, and we started to talk about how it happened and what his consequence should be. He looked at me and asked, “Why aren’t you mad at me?”⁠⠀

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Now, let me pause here. My children have, indeed, seen me angry—probably yesterday. But during this particular incident, I wasn’t. ⁠⠀

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He went to bed shortly thereafter and then kept coming out of his room. He couldn’t sleep. I watched him battle with himself, even though I’d explained clearly that he was forgiven. As this was a bigger offense than our typical conflicts and escapades, this was the first time he truly felt the weight of grace. Though his choice and its result felt heavy, the grace felt heavier still. ⁠⠀

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“But mom, that TV is expensive,” he said, 30 minutes after he’d gone to bed.⁠⠀

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I understood. Haven’t I felt those very same things when I’ve messed up? Haven’t I wondered how God could still love me? How He could forgive me? Unearned grace feels uncomfortable. ⁠⠀

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I replied, “But you are worth more.”⁠⠀

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This isn’t a “how to parent” story. Instead, this showed me what doesn't work. I learned that my normal impulse, to show emotion and be his “jury," is less effective for encouraging heart change. But during this incident, when I gave him the same kindness and lavish grace that God gives me, he was able to face his heart and talk to God in a different way. ⁠⠀


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