I realized not too long ago that one of my prayers had been answered. It was a prayer made when I was feeling, ohhh I don’t know, like I believe, but what does it mean really? How does it work? I get it, I do. But umm… I just, I don’t know…
Theologically Jesus is the sacrificial lamb slain for the forgiveness of sins, not only did he make propitiation for our sins, he justifies us and … . Mm hmm. Yes, I believe. Sure I do. But ummm… like… huh?
I don’t remember the specific prayer, but the question was more or less along the lines of why did Jesus have to take sins on himself? Theoretically, I understand the substitution thing, payment for sins, love, and all that, but if I’m honest, not really, really.
Last summer, my girl liked a boy and boy liked her. What I didn’t know at the time they first started spending time together was that this kid has quite the reputation for being a player. That boy? For reals? How? He was also a couple of years older and starting high school in the fall.
As she spent more time with him, she started to lose that gleam in her eye. Her smile didn’t flash our way as much anymore. She withdrew to her room more often. I felt the need to intervene and bring their summer likefest to an end, particularly after reading their texts.
It’s not that the texts were all that bad really. He was actually very sweet or funny most of the time—I got to see a little of what she liked about him. However, I have to admit he had good game and I could not allow her to be played. She’s too young for what he had going on. The current she was swimming in was getting too strong. I had to pull her out before things went too far.
I was pretty angry about some of what I read. Some was inappropriate in that young teenage boy kind of way and there was a lot of pressure on her to move things along. There was no “if you loved me, you would… .” The pressure was just there. Present in the conversations. Despite all that I read, oddly enough, I was never angry with him.
My anger was directed at how awful and messed up this world can be and what is presently happening and still yet to come down the road for her. The choices she’ll have to make. The things she shouldn’t have to hear. The unwanted advances. The uncomfortable squirms of not knowing how to react to something unbelievably inappropriate.
I truly wasn’t prepared for the emotions that hit me. All my feelings of rejection. All the feelings of shame I had carried around for a good portion of my life. All the beliefs of being unlovable. All the heaping self-blame and worthlessness even when things weren’t my fault and I couldn’t stop what was happening. All of it hit at once. Everything I have worked hard to heal from was just up in my face taunting me that it was going after my daughter.
You can’t have her. Not on my watch. Not now.
I finally calmed down enough to talk rationally with her. After several conversations, I asked if she understood why I stepped in. She said because I wanted to protect her. Yes, certainly that was part of the answer. I simply couldn’t watch the gleam in her eye disappear, her smile fade, hear her laughter silenced. I couldn’t let her fill up with self-doubt. I couldn’t let her live in lies. I could not let her become like I had been for so long. It wasn’t going to happen.
“Oh baby girl, you have no idea what this life can do to you. But I do. Listen to me, learn from me. I want to protect you, absolutely,” I assured her. “The truth is though, I can’t protect you from everything. I can’t. But what I am trying to do is help you walk through life with as much freedom as possible.”
When all was said and done, I remember thinking if I wasn’t protected from the [bad word of choice] for whatever reason and had to go through all my heartache and pain only to spare her, it was worth every moment.
Then it was as if God whispered to me, “Do you understand a little better now?”