By Kris Bruun
I am a CASA (court-appointed special advocate). I work with a pre-teen who just turned twelve. She’s been in the system since she was 8. She just transitioned to a new foster home, and when the family went to church for the first time, she said, “I want to be baptized again.”
I was with her for her first baptism. It was an accident. (I mean my being there; not the baptism.) She was living in a residential treatment center (RTC), and some church group decided it would be a good idea if all of the kids who were willing would be baptized that weekend. Nobody told me that it was going to happen; I just happened to visit on her baptism day, so we went shopping together, and Walmart just happened to have a white knit dress in her size ($9).
I’m not sure how much she was taught in advance about baptism, but one thing stuck with her: baptism gives you a fresh start. Now she was trying to start over again, one of many try-overs in her young life, and she wanted that fresh start.
I spoke to her new foster mom and we agreed that baptism is not something you repeat. Foster mom said they would discuss it, and they did. I tried to explain that you can have a fresh start any time you confess your sins and want to start over. My kiddo was unimpressed. She heard what I said, but she also knew what she felt.
“Why is this so hard?” I wondered. Forgiveness and a fresh start, readily available.
Then I asked myself, “I believe that; but how often do I live it out?”
God forgives and forgets, wipes the slate clean. I find it a more complex process. On the one hand, I think that’s a normal part of being human. We sometimes have to work through things (especially big things) before we can let them go. At the same time, if I’m being honest, I must confess that sometimes I hang on to my grievances – I’m not even sure why.
On the wall above my bed hangs a child’s prayer. It’s doggerel, not great poetry, and I don’t know the source. It was part of a Sunday school assignment on forgiveness of sins. Whenever I give a Sunday school assignment, I always carry it out myself just to see what difference it makes (if any) because I feel strongly that I’m working at this Christian life along with them. The assignment I gave was to decorate the verse and hang it up. So I did.
Jesus Savior, wash away
All that I’ve done wrong today.
Help me every day to be
Good and gentle, more like Thee. Amen.
At first, it didn’t make much difference. I felt kind of silly saying it at times – it’s a kid’s prayer, after all. Maybe so, but it’s been hanging on my wall a couple of months now, and I’m starting to feel the effect of it.
Instead of waking up with the drag of yesterday’s sins, I’m more often waking up ready to face a new day. Sometimes I even remember it at work: “Good and gentle…” Sometimes I don’t even add sarcastically: “… in your dreams.”
So I’m emailing the prayer to my CASA kiddo, and at our next visit, we will talk about it. It’s not magic, but it does help to remind us of the reality that God is bigger than we are. That God forgives instantly. That we each can have a fresh start every day.
“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.”