A Little Boy's Story - Of the Power of Sin
His legs hung limply from the dining room table about a foot from the floor while his eyes locked on the pile of mac n’ cheese and dinosaur nuggets on his plate. Typically, my seven-year-old son Trey would be shoving food into his mouth in huge gulps, but today he just sat and stared.
“Are you okay, Trey Bear?” I asked.
“I don’t feel good,” he replied. “My throat hurts.”
I could tell he was not his usual self, so I asked if he would just like a glass of chocolate milk to help with his sore throat. I expected his face to light up at the suggestion, but instead, he croaked out, “Can I please go lie down.” Before I could answer, huge tears were streaming down his innocent face. I felt his forehead, and he had no fever, but I told him it was okay for him to go lay down.
A little while later, I went in to check on him. His bed was empty. Hearing sniffling and whimpers, I made a quick scan of the room. Pudgy dirty toes peeked out of the shadows of the open closet. Looking in, I saw Trey. His head was buried behind his knees where he sat tucked into the corner. I leaned in closer to see he was crying. I asked him what was wrong.
“Mom, I have done something really bad,” was his response.
“Tell me,” I replied.
He went on to tell me a story about how he and his friend were playing and like typical kids found themselves in an argument. At one point, Trey swallowed hard as he tried to stop his tears and said, “Mom, I used the ‘f’ word.”
“What do you mean? What ‘f’ word?”
His big brown eyes filled once again as he choked out the words, “You know….fart.”
It took everything I had not to laugh. But I had to keep a stern face because it was clear Trey felt horrible about using that word. And on top of that, he thought “fart” was a cuss word.
Before I could reply he blurted out, “That’s a sin, isn’t it Mom?
I explained it was not a kind word, and if he knew it was wrong, he could pray and ask for forgiveness. He twisted his legs into a pretzel as he sat up and folded his chubby fingers in prayer. With squinted eyes and head bowed almost onto his lap, he prayed a sweet prayer asking God to forgive his sin.
I thought that was the end of the story. Little did I realize we were about to go on a three-week journey of confessions and repentance. I was awakened around 2:00 am with Trey standing beside my bed weeping. Coming out of the haze, I was startled and grabbed him to console him. After a few minutes, he blurted out, “Mom, I have sinned.” He went on to describe a time he was with his friend, and they were watching some workers doing renovations on a neighbor’s house. At one point, when no one was watching, they decided to pour the can of Sprite they were drinking into a bucket of paint. In his retelling, he cried and said he knew it was wrong, and it was a terrible sin that he ruined that paint.
“I can’t even tell the man I am sorry because he is gone. That’s terrible, right mom?”
I couldn’t decide if I was irritated that he woke me in the middle of the night or touched by the tenderness of his heart and the realization of his sin. But like we did the day before, I reminded him he could pray and ask for forgiveness, which he did.
There were probably ten or fifteen more episodes of the Confessions of Seven-year-old Trey. A few were serious like the ruining of the paint, but most only amounted to little-boy mischief. On one such confession, where he had climbed on a neighbor’s roof, he could not be consoled with merely praying for forgiveness. He was convinced he needed to go to the neighbor and confess his sin. A slight knock on the door and Tom, our six-foot-five neighbor appeared. Tom was a very kind man, but to Trey, he looked massive. Trey went on to confess his actions of being on the roof. Standing behind Trey, I shrugged and smiled in response to Tom’s questioning eyes.
Tom knelt beside Trey and sternly said, “That could have been very dangerous and was wrong, but I forgive you. Just don’t do it again.”
Trey nodded and proclaimed loudly, “I won’t.”
This season of confession and little-boy prayers of repentance continued and at times, Trey was physically nauseous. He confessed everything he could remember doing wrong for years. Finally, I sat him down and explained that confession was right and necessary, but if he didn’t like the way it felt to sin, maybe he should think about his actions before he did something wrong. That piece of advice was as if he had been given a gift of the most excellent value. He jumped up, hugged my neck, and with resolve, he ran off to play like a “good boy.”
I often think of that time, and when I do, I am still in awe of my child’s tender heart toward his sin. It led me to serious soul searching. Am I as sickened by my sin? Do I seek to repent and make things right when I have wronged others? Is my heart not satisfied until I speak works of repentance?
In our crazy divisive world, we could all stand to learn a lesson from a little boy. We could all seek to have the same heart that is sickened by our hurtful actions and words.
What do you need to confess this day?
How can words of repentance to the one you have wronged heal your heart?
by Cheryl Miller