One warm, sunny day last week, I figured it was a good time to use the coupon. I left work and picked Rachel up at my parents' house. I whispered my plan to Mom and then told Rachel to get in the car. I decided to have a little fun with her and keep the plan a secret until we got there. Our conversation went something like this.
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"Rachel," I said in a stern voice. "I need you to come with me."
"Why, Mom? Where are we going?"
"You'll find out. Just get in the car, young lady."
"What's wrong? What is this about?"
"I don't want to talk about it right now. Just get in the car." It was hard to keep a straight face, but somehow I managed. All the way to the ice cream place, Rachel tried to figure out what she had done wrong.
"Is it because I made Grandma fall down?" she asked, grasping at straws.
"Well, did you make Grandma fall down?" I questioned in return.
"No," she answered.
"Then it's not about that."
I could almost see the wheels turning in her brain. "Is it because of what I said to Ellie today?" Ellie is Rachel's best friend, and Ellie's mom works at the same school I work at. I guess Rachel thought the news of their spat at school had already made it to me.
"Well," I asked with a straight face, "What did you say to Ellie?"
Rachel proceeded to tell me all about the quarrel and how it worked out in the end. We talked about that and what she should have done instead. "So is that what this is about?"
I was still trying ...successfully...to keep a straight face. But I was very glad when we finally arrived at the ice cream place.
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I found it very interesting how eager Rachel was to confess her transgressions (real or imagined) when she felt I was angry with her. I want to make something clear. I don't believe in using guilt trips to manipulate my daughter into doing what I want her to do. But this wasn't a real guilt trip. I don't believe any damage was done by this little charade, especially since in the end, Rachel knew clearly that it was done to make way for a surprise.
Some of us live with the ever-present image of a stern, disapproving authority figure looking at us with a grim face. Guilt just oozes out of our heart and soul.
Sometimes, the guilt is over genuine sin that needs to be repented of and confessed. Rachel's spat with her friend needed to be confessed and resolved. That kind of guilt isn't so bad.
But sometimes, the Accuser glares at us and we grasp at straws to figure out what is wrong. We might come up with all kinds of reasons that God might be rejecting us. We think God is angry with us.
In reality, God is saying, "Stop listening to the Accuser. I've forgiven you. I love you. If you've genuinely done something wrong, bring it to Me and we'll deal with it together. Come to me, my child. Let's spend some time together."
God probably doesn't take us out for ice cream, but spending time with Him is still very sweet.