Psalm 25:6-7 – Be mindful of your mercy, O LORD, and of your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD!
The teenage plan: Thanksgiving lunch with us and then Thanksgiving supper with the boyfriend’s family. I felt it was a reasonable request from our oldest daughter. Her younger sister felt differently. “You can’t go. Thanksgiving is for family,” she said in a feisty voice reserved for a stereotypical redhead. Immediately, she was given great assurance that the absence from our family would only be for a couple of hours. “We will still watch the parade and cook together, and I’ll be here for our family meal. I’m only going to his house to eat supper, and I’ll be right back.” Little Red repeated her words. “Thanksgiving is for family.” Somehow, I couldn’t shake the feeling this was more than a statement of fact for her.
When the holiday came, both families understood the plan. Our oldest was true to her word and spent all her time with little sis and our family until late afternoon. She then said a happy good-bye and headed off for her brief visit. The pouty younger girl walked slowly to their shared room and quietly closed the door. I assumed she intended to sulk for a couple of hours. I assumed wrongly.
When the happy daughter returned right on time, she headed off to her room to find the redhead. I expected a pleasant reunion and anticipated a night filled with giggles and storytelling of the boyfriend’s family. Again, I was wrong. Rather than giggles, my ears filled with shrieks and shouting. I thought I heard the words “what have you done” and I headed down the hallway to discover more questions than answers. In the split second it took to view the scene, my brain began to race. Was the room bigger? Wait, was something missing? Why is the window open on such a cold day?
Our oldest daughter spun on her heel to face me, pointed an accusing finger across the room, and screamed, “SHE threw my bed out the window!” As I quickly turned toward a very satisfied-looking redhead, she confidently gave her even-toned response: “SHE doesn’t live here anymore.”
King David may never have thrown a sibling’s bed through a window, but in his youth he did stay in quite a bit of trouble. I find it fascinating that some scholars debate the meaning of David’s physical description in scripture. Ruddy and handsome could refer to any number of things, but there are those who believe David was a redhead.
In David’s psalm (which we’ve numbered 25), he asks God for two things: remember me, don’t remember me. He is first turning to God requesting that God keep the promise to be eternally compassionate and faithful in love. In God’s remembering his own covenant, David knows that forgiveness is provided.
David then immediately asks for what seems to be the opposite. Don’t remember me. Don’t remember my teenage sins. Don’t remember my wrongdoing. See me through the lens of your compassion and healing. Know me only through your love for me.
Rather than opposing one another, I believe the two statements go hand-in-hand: Think of me, and as you love me forever, forgive me. Only God could offer such a beautifully complete promise – not only to redheads, but to all of us. Throughout this season’s Lenten journey, may I be less inclined to throw things and more inclined to return to scripture for reassurances of forgiveness and love.
Make your ways known to me, Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth – teach it to me – because you are the God who saves me. I put my hope in you all day long. Lord, remember your compassion and faithful love – they are forever! But don’t remember the sins of my youth or my wrongdoing. Remember me only according to your faithful love for the sake of your goodness, Lord. O Lord, you are good and do the right thing; you teach sinners which way they should go. You guide the weak to justice, teaching them your way. All your paths are loving and faithful for those who keep your covenant and laws. Make your ways known to me, Lord; teach me your paths. Amen.