Our last post, “A Mean Mum, Mastitis and Mars Bars” was our most popular post ever.
If you haven’t read it yet, stop reading this right now click the link above first. You’re going to need to get the backstory to see why this post is going to be even better…
There was a villain in the last post, she was called “Mean Mum”. Get ready to hiss as she enters the stage.
A few people mentioned Mean Mum to me after reading the post. They wanted to express their distaste for her, to tell me what they would have said to her if they’d been there, a few speculated as to what was going on in her life to cause her to overreact in such a way.
You know what? Each of these reactions I’ve had too. With hindsight I’ve wished I’d reacted differently in the situation – stood up for my son a bit. Tried to reason with her to help her see how inappropriate she was being. I’ve speculated as to what wounds she has, to cause her to react in such an angry manner. But you know what? It doesn’t help. It doesn’t help me. And it doesn’t help her.
Because at the end of the day – what has happened has happened. And at the end of the day what she did was wrong. She mistreated me and that had consequences for me (condemnation, fear, anxiety) and it had consequences for her (stress, anger, and I’m guessing/hoping shame and regret). So, what do we even do with that? What do we do when we cause ourselves and other people pain because of our selfishness and yes I’m going to say it, because of our “sin”?
This is where the good news of the gospel changes everything…
So Mean Mum, this post is for you. I don’t know if I’ll ever see you again, and even if I did, I’m not sure I’d even recognise you. I’m not sure if you’d recognise me or even remember the incident that occurred in the park that day back in February. I doubt you’d speak to me, unless my son came too close to your son again (let’s hope and pray that never happens!).
So I doubt we’ll ever have another interaction.
But whether we do or not this is what I want you to know. (And by the way Mean Mum – you need to read right to the end, because while the first bit is really uncomfortable reading – you gotta get through it to hear the best possible news ever – which could make your heart sing and you dance in freedom and joy from now into eternity).
[And as an aside – the comments below are not just about “Mean Mum” as an individual – they are statements about humanity in general. Not just her but me too. Not just me but my son too. The following truths are claims that Jesus makes about all of humanity and about himself].
So here we go Mean Mum – this is what you need to know.
You’re not a good person.
This is more offensive than anything you said to me that day. It flies in the face of everything society teaches us about the nature of humanity. Society says by nature we’re good. Society says that we make mistakes because we are victims of something – parental scaring, or PMT, or sleep deprivation or any other number of things. Society says that when we are under pressure sometimes we make mistakes, but most of the time we can justify them, learn from them, but we should certainly not dwell on them. “No regrets” is our mantra.
So, Mean Mum, society would say that that incident in the park was simply you reacting to my son’s boisterousness in a disproportionate way – not because you were in the wrong, not because your words were a direct result of the anger in your heart. But because there was something external going on in your life making you a victim. It’s not really your fault.
But you know what? That is not satisfying.
Not satisfying for me. You didn’t know me or my circumstances and how they made me especially susceptible to despair and internal condemnation. I didn’t know you or anything about what’s going on in your life. Regardless of externals – your anger was not justified. If we shrug off your yelling as an unfortunate experience then there’s no justice for me.
But it’s not satisfying for you either. Because when we get the pang of regret because of our actions (and we all carry around remorse, shame and “if I could just relive that moment again I would have done it this way…”) we need to do something with that. I don’t believe you if you say that you don’t experience these emotions about situations in your life.
The reason “no regrets” is a mantra we have to repeat in society is because naturally we do have regrets. We all do. And if we don’t we could actually be defined as a psychopath incapable of empathy. But Mean Mum you do have empathy – plenty of empathy for your son (who faced an injustice at the hands of my son). So because you have the capacity for empathy I’m going to make the educated guess that you do have regrets in life.
So what do we do with regrets? There are three common options I guess.
Firstly, we might feel the pang of regret and then we think of all the reasons why we were justified in our actions. It was the external pressures; we were provoked; everybody does it – it’s normal.
Or secondly, we might despair. We accept our error and our self-talk becomes condemning. We get dragged into a downward spiral of self-hate.
Or thirdly, we could look to escapism. We push the regrets out of our minds by turning on netflix, going out shopping, having a drink. We anesthetise ourselves to our self-inflicted pain. Sometimes we do all three of these – often in quick succession.
What do you do with your regrets?
But here’s the thing Mean Mum…I want you to know that there’s a better way, a much better way of dealing with regret. A way that gets rid of regret, a way that enables us to own up to mistakes, get them removed from our lives and have the ability to change. But it starts with this truth – you are not a good person, and yet –
You are more loved than you could ever imagine.
There is a God that exists. He knows everything about you. All your dreams, all your hopes, all the beautiful service that you give to your son and husband on a daily basis. He cares about you deeply. He knows what makes you laugh, what makes you feel alive and what causes hope, joy and gratitude to rise up in your heart. He knit you together – creating you to be the exact person that he intended you to be. There has never been anyone else throughout history like you. You are unique and you are made in the image of God – designed to bring him great pleasure and joy. He knows what you’ve good at and the strengths of your personality.
He loves you.
Do you know the way you look at your son with love and pride and joy and amazement? That is how God longs to see you. He wants to be your father and he wants you to live your life as his child. He wants you to be in relationship with him.
He offers you a relationship with him – you can know God personally if you want. Are you interested?
Well there’s a way that can happen – or more accurately there’s a person that can make that happen – Jesus, God’s son.
You see, God is a God of justice. That means he cannot sweep our sin under the carpet and act like these injustices are unimportant. And believe it or not this is good news. God knows about all the anger, selfishness and shame in your heart. He knows all about your life circumstances. He knows all about the ways in which you’ve been mistreated and he cares about your wounds. He knows you are a victim and his anger rages against the things that cause you harm in your life. He knows that you are also a perpetrator and he holds you to account for that. He’s a God of justice and he hates wrongdoing. But not just your own wrongdoing against others – also that wrong that’s been done against you. He’s the perfect judge who shows no favoritism.
So he did something amazing.
He needed a way to punish sin – to eradicate evil. A way for justice to be satisfied. He wanted to do that without making humanity face that themselves.
So rather than directing his anger at humanity – the cause of injustices – he did something extraordinary, something unlikely, something almost unbelievable.
God became a human being and was punished in the place of broken and sinful humanity.
You may have heard some stuff about Jesus Christ. That he lived 2000 years ago. That he walked around doing some miracles and teaching some stuff about God (even claiming to be God himself). That he died on the cross and came back to life again. You may have heard about it and thought, yes I’ve heard about it – but what does it have to do with me?
Let me tell you Mum From The Park (because you should not be defined as Mean Mum, your sin need not define you) – Jesus has everything to do with you.
Jesus died so that you can be forgiven by God. And if God forgives you for every bad thing you’ve done in your life – then your debt has been cleared, your innocence has been declared and you can truly live regret free.
Imagine a court room – you are standing in the dock before God – the good and impartial judge. The list of your offences throughout your life are read out before him and you are asked if you have committed these acts and thoughts. You’re under oath and you answer “yes.” You are just about to be taken away to pay for your crimes but someone else steps in – a substitute in your place steps into the dock. He declares that he will accept the punishment for your crimes – he will pay in your place – and the judge accepts his life in place of yours.
That is the gospel.
You can go free – you can be forgiven – you can swap punishment for acceptance and relationship. You can be made right, clean, innocent and beautiful in the sight of God – now and forever.
Something better than “No regrets” can be yours. No guilt. Being declared innocent. That can actually be yours.
That is what’s available for you because of Jesus.
And not just that. When we begin a relationship with God, his Spirit comes to live within us, reassuring us that we are precious to God. Speaking beautiful truth of our worth over our voices of self-condemnation. And crucially – giving us the ability to change. He can heal our wounds, replace anger with peace, soothe our anxious souls with reassurance that God is for us.
That is good news. And Mum From The Park that’s what I want you to know – now and forever more.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
If you liked this post, please consider sharing it, to let others hear about the good news too.