Near the end of season 2, Lorelai, the protagonist of one of my all-time-favorite shows, Gilmore Girls, is graduating from business school. She returned to community college as an adult, after leaving high school when she got pregnant with her now sixteen-year-old daughter, Rory.
To set the scene just a bit more, a graduation is a pretty big deal in any household, but this graduation is particularly special, since Lorelai and Rory have this unique best-friend-almost-sisterly mother-daughter bond and Lorelai has worked so hard to make a life for the two of them.
Well, I’m sorry to spoil this one episode for you if you somehow haven’t seen it (which, if you haven’t, you probably should go binge watch right now), but Rory misses her best-friend-mother’s graduation. Partly due to a boy and partly due to a problem with a bus.
So, a hurt Lorelai gets home to an extremely agitated Rory who then rants (the Gilmore Girls are world-class ranters) for a good five minutes trying to explain what happened, how extremely sorry she is, how she is going to make it up to her mother, and how she is going to punish herself. It’s an exhausting rant.
Rory finishes up her I’m-sorry-speech saying that she’s going to go to bed and go to her room.
“Hold on a second, does this mean I have to eat alone?”
“Well it’s up to you, sending me to bed without supper you can’t lose with that punishment. It’s a classic.”
“I’d rather go out with my daughter tonight.”
“I don’t deserve it.”
“No, but I do.”
Ok, stick with me for another minute. And keep in mind this illustration is far from perfect, but this caught my attention as a good picture of something I have caught myself doing with God.
I mess up in some way and I take punishment in my own hands. In the back of my mind, I know He’ll forgive me (I’m a good church girl, afterall), but I have to show Him how sorry I really am by…
…feeling really awful for _________ amount of time…
…resolving to do better, try harder…
…make plans to take more bad stuff out…
…make plans to put more good stuff in…
I’m not even sure what that is, but that is not Christianity. That is not the Gospel. First of all, there is no punishment for me in Christ. He took it all on my behalf. And He did that because, just like Lorelai with Rory, He wants me with Him. He wants us to be together, to share a meal, to laugh, to talk, to cry, to talk. He loves me. He likes me. He wants relationship with me. No matter what.
Jesus told a story once about a son who hurt his father and who came up with a big I’m-sorry-speech and a plan to declare he wasn’t even worthy to be a son, all he wanted now, all he deserved, was to be his father’s slave.
That father didn’t even let him finish his speech. He ran out to him, proudly ushered him back into his home (even though the son had made a fool of him), and threw a big party for the whole town. He was so glad to have his son back home. He didn’t want a slave, he wanted his son.
(As a side note, that father had another son who didn’t realize he already viewed himself as his father’s slave and who was ticked that this rebellious son was getting a party even though he had screwed up so royally. You know how the father responded to that son? He went out to him. Begged him to come join the party. Reminded him that he was a dear son, and not a slave. He loved and wanted relationship with both his sons, even though they both kind-of ran from him in different ways. Good dad, huh?)
After Lorelai asks Rory to join her for dinner, because Rory’s company is what she wants even after Rory’s bad choice, Rory finally pauses her rant for long enough to stop, look into her mom’s eyes, and apologize for hurting her. They embrace and then they continue their evening.
I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking we can just skip to that part, the part with the embracing and the breaking bread together and the enjoying relationship with each other. We are sons and daughters, Jesus already saw to that. We can’t lose that relationship, even if we feel like we don’t deserve it.
But we are loved, nonetheless. So very loved and enjoyed.
Instead of thinking up exhausting rants to make up for this or as penance for that, let’s give Him what He actually wants: ourselves.