Owen came home from church Wednesday night with a paper plate decorated with foam stickers and a bright orange rectangle cut out with the word “CONVICTION” printed on it. He told me it is the word for the month. The teachers are explaining what it means to be convicted and yesterday Owen was feeling it first hand.

I’ll back up to Wednesday and explain that he had brought home from pre-school a note on an unfinished worksheet and his teacher had talked to me as well about his lack of motivation to finish his work. I could tell that she was somewhat frustrated and he seemed completely unaffected by our attempts to get him to do his work.

That afternoon I talked to him about the importance of finishing and the practice of being focused and not allowing himself to be distracted by the other kids or whatever may be going on around him. He had this problem earlier in the school year and we thought we had corrected it, but he seems to be falling into it again. He didn’t seem to respond to anything I said and I felt like I was wasting my breath.

The next morning I decided it was just going to have to be brought down to brass tacks and I told him in the van on the way to school that if he didn’t finish his work at school he would get a spanking when he got home. He heard that.

When I picked him up that afternoon his teacher patted his back and looked at me smiling. She said, “much better today” and I knew that he must have been more focused. I was glad. However, when I followed him out the door of the class room he was looking at me with an expression that may forever be burned into my mind. His eyes looked sorrowful and pained. He was just staring at me almost expectantly and wouldn’t respond when I asked him if he were okay.

I asked him several questions, even questioning whether or not he got his work done. He looked right at me and with that same painful expression said that he had finished his work. I continued to investigate his troubled look and he finally said that his eye was hurting. His eyes did look puffy and I attributed all of what I was seeing to an irritation in his eye.

He seemed fine except for being a bit sensitive to things. I attributed that to being very tired and made him take a nap. This upset him greatly as Tuesdays and Thursdays I normally let him stay up. But we were looking at a full schedule with leadership dinner at church that night which always means a late night and I didn’t want him to be completely useless for school today. I put his brothers down first and then took a book into the guest room where he was lying down and I read him a story to calm him down so he could sleep. He responded very well and after the story I laid down beside him and we talked for just a few minutes. We were quiet for a little while and suddenly a confession came.

“Mom, I’m sorry I told you I got my work done. I’m sorry I said I finished my work.”

I questioned all of this, and he confessed to lying to me. He confessed to having unfinished work in his backpack and then telling me a lie to keep from getting a spanking. I could see the hurt draining from his face and I wanted to just say…”it’s okay…don’t worry about it,” but I didn’t.

I thanked him sincerely for being honest with me and then told him that he would still have to have that spanking for not finishing his work. I hugged him and told him that we would take care of it after his nap. He slept hard. Guilt is exhausting.

I went downstairs and looked in his folder. He had done all the important work and there was even a note from his teacher emphasizing his good work. The only thing that was not finished was a coloring sheet with no activity associated with it. Kris and I talked about it and decided to just make sure and talk to him about the entire situation and not give him a spanking for not finishing a coloring sheet. His teacher had even told me that coloring was something she didn’t care too much about and that if they were inclined not to do it she wasn’t going to require them to do it.

When he woke up we sat and talked about lying and how it made him feel. He admitted his pain in telling a lie and the subsequent relief in confessing it. I was so proud of him, and told him so. I explained the difference in schoolwork that was important to finish and focus on and work that wasn’t as important and then talked to him again about finishing. This time I explained that the reason he felt bad about lying was because Jesus is in his heart and Jesus wants to live in a place that is pure and good. It makes Jesus uncomfortable to live with a lie and that’s why He convicts us to confess those things. If we want to show Jesus love we live lives that are good and right. As he has expressed how much he loves his teacher I used the same reasoning with his school work. I told him that because he loves Ms. Marilyn he could show her that love by being a good and obedient student. When he focuses on his work, he is showing Ms. Marilyn that he loves her and respects her. He nodded and I’ll be interested to see if there is a change in his focus.