Riddle me this…
A 31 year old black African. A 27 year old white babe from Ohio. A 15 year old Haitian and a super white 4 month old African American (literally) baby.
I swear I thought the vein on the TSA officer’s forehead was going to explode trying to figure out exactly how my family was “connected”. Finally he looked at me and said… “Sure, go ahead.”
Thanks officer (and all the other folk trying to figure us out as we fumbled our way through the airport), I know it’s confusing but it’s really not that complicated.
Here’s the skinny.
I grew up in Africa. I married an American way out of my league. We adopted a teenage girl from Haiti and 6 months ago, my wife’s white genes pulled an upset and beat up my African genes (hence the super white baby).
Needless to say, it’s been a crazy fun adventure for my wife and I, especially the part about trying to raise a 15 year old two years into your marriage.
My wife and I absolutely adore our first daughter and she’s the greatest miracle we’ve ever experienced but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a challenge.
I’ll never forget standing in my back yard a few months after the adoption, giving my wife the… “I don’t remember talking about this in counseling” look.
“Do you think we should google what to do?”
What? you’ve never googled parenting advice before? yea, me neither. It was the stand still of ages I tell you.
I had asked our teenage daughter Bebe to do her chores and she looked me straight in the eye and vehemently said NO!
“No? No? Well, um, yea, I’ll be back in a few minutes and when I do, you better be ready for what is to come Missy. You better be ready.”
I have no idea what to do so I’ll go in the back yard and pretend I’m mowing while mom and I try to think of something real quick so you don’t know we’re making this up.
Oh boy, what a dilemma. How do you discipline a teenager who is defiant?
I had NO idea what to do, so I threw a hail mary. I took a risk. I did something radical. I looked at my wife and said…
“You know she’s expecting a fight, so why don’t we give her the opposite (grace)?”
Last time my wife looked at me like that I suggested getting our second Saint Bernard puppy (I know, I know, we’re crazy).
Are you crazy? She just disrespected you with no remorse and you want to show her grace?
“Yea babe, I do. And if you’re wondering, I don’t think it’s going to work and yes it sounds just as stupid saying it as it did in my head BUT It’s either that or we ask google again for some advice.”
So, there it was. I made my case, we braced for the worst and decided to fight with love.
We walked in and with a forced smile, I said to our tight fisted teenage daughter who was obviously prepared for a fight…
“Hey Bebe, it’s ok. I’ll do your chores for you. All of it. Go ahead and play”
If confused and shocked had a baby, it would be the look on her face.
She had no idea what was happening. Join the club Bebe. Mom and I don’t either. The only difference between us is I’m doing your chores and you’re playing in your room.
Great plan dad. This is the last time we ever listen to you.
I honestly thought this was the worst parenting move ever, until it happened.
It took about 5 minutes but it happened. It really did.
Our defiant daughter came storming down the stairs in tears. She was sobbing, shaking and fighting hard to catch her breath. I immediately dropped the vacuum and hugged her.
“What’s wrong Bebe? Did you get hurt? What happened? “
“Nothing dad. Nothing. I just want to do my chores. Please let me do my chores. I’m so sorry. Dad, I’m so so sorry for being disobedient. Dad, please, please let me do my chores. I just want to do my chores.”
Isn’t that something?
My teenage daughter who was ready to go 12 rounds 15 minutes ago was now sobbing in my arms begging to do her chores.
Also a great reminder of how and why the gospel is so powerful. Here’s how Paul put it in Romans.
“It is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance.”
Sure Jesus could have shown up with a baseball bat and knocked us into H.E.double hockey sticks. But he didn’t. He didn’t come to condemn us. He came to love. He came to save. He fought back with grace.
He looked at us and said…
“Don’t worry, it’s ok. I’ll pay for your sins. All of it. It’s done”
You know what happens when we get that? Like when we actually get the weight of the kindness and grace of God?
We run to him. We run towards holiness. We weep. We cry. We come home.
Because grace changes everything.
Be honest, what’s easier for you to believe, an angry God waiting to take you out or one that fights with grace?