Five Minute Friday: Pointing the Finger

You know that spine-shrinking feeling you have when you’ve been caught out at something? They have seen your wrongdoing, named it, and there’s no place to run and no place to hide. You feel exposed, ashamed. You have no excuse. I’ve experienced that sensation, and also the great gift of forgiveness extended to me afterward. The feeling of being washed clean of the rags of shame is freeing and liberating.

But too often, I’m the one pointing the finger. I’m the one naming – in my family – the list of shortcomings and failures before them. They don’t reach my high standards, and I’m disappointed. Or I place my frustration in one, such as my husband, on a child, like I did this very morning: “Mom,” she said, looking up at me from the half-landing, “You’re mad at Dad for not getting up and getting ready but you’re taking it out on me.” Yes, she was right – and I had to confess that and ask her to forgive me. She walked up the stairs and gave me a hug before going to school. I was glad.

So what’s our excuse? Pride, self-determination, fear, anger… a whole host of negative and self-focused emotions can lie behind our actions of blaming others or being overly cross when they fail us. But we’re not God; nor does he want us to be taking that rightful place from him. He wants us to extend grace and love with humble hearts. Yes, there’s an added layer of complication when we’re parents and we want to teach our children. But God through his Spirit is the best teacher of all.

That’s a thought that Oswald and Biddy Chambers held onto in their work with the Bible college they set up, and then later with their work with soldiers in Egypt during the First World War. They would seek not to guilt someone into making a decision for God, or to try to convict them about a specific course of action. They fully believed that God would do the work; they would pray and commit the matter to him and to the person. (This week marks the hundred-year anniversary of his death. You can read my short account of his life here.)

How can you trust God with your loved ones today?

This post is part of the weekly Five Minute Friday link-up. You can find today’s prompt here.

Want more? My book The Living Cross shares stories from the Old Testament and the New on the freeing nature of forgiveness in a forty-day devotional format (for Lent, but it can be read at any time).

14 Responses

  1. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I actually did a review of Mrs. Chambers book. It is by far one of my favorites. I love Oswald! You are right that we need to trust God to do the work in others. I am guilty of this too. Mostly for the ones closest to me, which is super important so as not to push them away by my own doing. Thank you.

  2. this week i have a husband getting on a plane (okay, four planes in one trip) and a daughter going to NYC. i want to tell them how to be safe, i want to tell God how to take care of them. thanks for reminding me HE KNOWS.

  3. Lisa del Toro

    This is my first time reading your blog. Thank you for your insight. I find myself at age 65 raising a 14 year old granddaughter and a 10 year old grandson., AND doing this as a single person. There are times I get tired and ornery but I pray that I always will ask their forgiveness. I need to show them God through my actions. They have enough baggage without me piling more on them. Thank you for your encouragement through this blog.
    Yours in Christ

    1. Hi Lisa! Thanks for stopping by. I’m 15 years younger than you, raising kids the same age, and I get tired… But I too try to always ask forgiveness when I mess up. What a lovely gift you are giving them. May the Lord fill you up with strength and may he refresh you.

  4. So glad to read your post, Amy (and thanks for visiting me as well!). You’re so right about how easy it is to point the finger. We can forget that there are things WE are responsible for and things GOD is responsible for, and we mess up by trying to take over something that’s not within our domain.

    By the way, you must have a great relationship with your daughter if she felt safe to speak the truth to you in such an insightful way. The lessons we learn from interactions with our kids can be pretty significant.

  5. This is so true Amy. When I have had a bad day and my emotions are running away with me, I often take it out on my kids. It’s the end of the day and kids are just being kids, and I’m being an adult that’s lost sense of what being a child is about. They get the raw end of the stick and I need to realise that I can’t use my excuses of what has happened during my day to effect my relationship with them. Isn’t it a good job God doesn’t do this with us?

    Visiting from FMF #59

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