May 24, 2011

Guilty Conscience

Yesterday during dinner, my daughter looked at my wife and said, "I need to go to the bathroom."  This isn't anything out of the norm.  I continued to eat while they headed off to the restroom.

Normally, the bathroom trip doesn't take that long.  Since Hannah had said something to the effect of, "I don't like the taste of my food," before she left the table, I figured that she needed to take care of some business and make some room, if you know what I mean.  This would make sense for the long delay in the restroom.  However, when my daughter returned, you could tell she had been crying.  Steph didn't look all that thrilled either.  I kept to my burger and fries in hopes of steering clear of what had transpired in the bathroom until later.  That was not the case.

It turns out that earlier in the day, Hannah had did something at school she shouldn't have done.  She didn't get in trouble for it, but was asked about it by one of the teachers.  She didn't lie about it.  She readily admitted she was in the wrong, and the teacher told her not to do it again.  She certainly could have let it go and hid it away in the not so happy, yet private place where you store things you don't want anyone to know.  Steph and I wouldn't have known anything.  But, my daughter has a guilty conscience.

When she does something she knows she should not have done, it will eat at her and control her.  You will be able to see it in her face and in her body language.  She won't have an appetite (which is surprising because she is my daughter) or have any real desire to play or do anything.  She simply looks like she knows the world is about to end.

And then she will give in and confess everything.

One time, she was jumping on our ottoman in the family room.  She knew she shouldn't do it and she never got caught.  A day or two later when she was putting on her pajamas for bed, she burst into tears.  It took awhile for my wife and I to figure out what was going on.  She had been wearing those pjs when she jumped on the ottoman a few days before.  Putting them on again reminded her of doing something she shouldn't have been doing and she had to spill the beans.

As I've thought through the events of last night's dinner time, I come up upon a hard question.  Where and when did we lose this gift of a guilty conscience?  I'm sure we all had it when we were little.  At what point does it go away?  Where did we learn to to create the not so happy, private place where we store our ugly history?  Why are we so afraid?

I pray that Hannah Grace never loses her guilty conscience.  I don't want her to walk around with baggage and hidden secrets weighing her down and holding her back.  I want her to know that she can share everything with her mom and I, no matter how horrible.  I want her to know that she will be loved unconditionally and that we are a safe place . . . a place to not be afraid.

I pray that we unlearn our ability to hide from our past, to love one another, and to let forgiveness reign.