Daddy was sewing badges onto Baby’s shirts. They were like Girl Scout badges, only not, because Girl Scout badges are something that little girls earn, and Daddy has never been very into making little girls earn things.
The badge Daddy was sewing onto Baby’s shirt marked her membership into a club He had started, the FFF (It was pronounced “Triple F”). The emblem looked like three flourishing gold capital letter F’s joined together, which is what it was. The three letter F’s stood for The Forgiven Forgiveness Force, and the badge marked her as a forgiven forgiver who had been given from Daddy something He had: the authority on earth to forgive sins.
Daddy had started the club by forgiving people. He forgave people so much that they received way more forgiveness from Him than they could ever have occasion to give away in their lives, and so now they too could forgive anybody for anything because they’d been forgiven more. So the FFF went around the world forgiving people who had never been forgiven before. Daddy wanted to unleash a tidal wave of grace and forgiveness from which the world would never recover.
The first “F,” “Forgiven,” meant that a member of the FFF could be set free from one of the great fears that stops people from doing things, the fear of messing up. If they messed up, they were and would be Forgiven, and if they messed up more, they would be Forgiven More. So instead of getting you kicked out of the club, mistakes only made you more securely a member of the organization. That was a stroke of sheer genius on Daddy’s part, because it made the FFF very difficult to destroy, even when it looked like it was destroying itself.
The second “F,” “Forgiveness,” meant that the members of the FFF could be set free from a second great fear that keeps people from doing things, the fear of other people hurting them. If anybody hurt them, it just became another occasion to get to use Daddy’s superpower of forgiveness. So since the FFF didn’t need to fear getting hurt by other people, they could go places that really needed to be gone to and do things that really needed to be done, forgiving people all the way. Just like Daddy.
Most of all, they forgave each other, passing forgiveness around the organization. The rights and powers of Daddy’s FFF Club, if they used them, made them indestructible to the effects of sin in the world. If they sinned, they would be forgiven, and if they were sinned against, they would forgive. This enabled Daddy to keep an army of sinners alive in a world of sinners and sin. The FFF members could just whip out their badges and say, “Zap! I’ve been forgiven and I forgive you!” and make everything well again between brothers. Like the sheriff entering the saloon in a Western movie, they could stride boldly into sinful situations, whip out their badges, and carry out the wounded. They had survived wars and concentration camps and come out unscathed in the end, carrying their secret weapon and forgiving people all the way. Just like Daddy.
And Daddy bankrolled all of this forgiveness. Every forgiven sin in the world was a sin that Daddy had paid for. Every time Daddy forgave anybody, and every time anybody else forgave anybody, Daddy absorbed the cost. Nobody would ever be Forgiven if Daddy hadn’t died for them. Nobody would ever be able to Forgive if Daddy had not died for sin and sinners. Every golden FFF badge that Daddy sewed onto the shirt of a new child was a blood-bought badge. Daddy had paid for them all, and He was very proud of them.
All you had to do to join the club was admit you needed Daddy to forgive you and be willing to forgive anybody who needed forgiveness from you. Then Daddy would forgive however much you owed Him, which was always in the realm of a million billion dollars, and He would put all that money into an account for you to withdraw from whenever you needed to forgive other people. Other people would owe you things like $10 or $50 or on a really bad day maybe $10,000. And it felt impossible to just absorb the cost of $10,000 (in fact, it usually felt impossible to just absorb the cost of $50 too) until you looked into your bank account and realized that you still had a million billion dollars from Daddy and that He was depositing more every day.
According to the official rulebook Daddy had written for the club, you had to keep forgiving everyone to maintain your membership. In practice, however, Daddy was incredibly patient about this. Sometimes His children would struggle for years to forgive someone, and instead of kicking them out of the club or draining their accounts, He would keep forgiving them for that, until one day they would realize what He was doing for them and how He was giving them more every day of what they refused to give at all, and their hearts would break and it would be easy as pie to forgive that other person out of that enormous bank account from Daddy.
So in theory, the FFF was an indestructible and fearless force of grace and love that would take over the world. In practice, it was hampered in the same way that everything was hampered that involved messy, proud, fearful, recently-adopted orphans who tended to spill ketchup on their badges and forget to wear them.
Baby, for example, was not a very good member of the FFF. She was weak on her first “F,” the one about being forgiven, and instead of living like she was Forgiven, she had wasted most of her life trying to be perfect and not need to be forgiven for anything, and when she couldn’t pull that off, pretending.
In the same way, she had spent much of her energy most of her life on trying to avoid ever being in a situation where she would need to forgive anybody. She had surrounded herself with nice people, avoided mean and angry people, made friends with those who liked her, and then tried her very hardest to please everybody so they would always be nice to her. Unlike some of her other friends, she had so far been so successful at life, liberty, and the pursuit of people-pleasing that she had hardly ever been hurt and had had very few opportunities to ever forgive anybody (when she did, she was pretty bad at it).
So, like many members of the FFF, Baby had wasted her life trying to pretend she wasn’t a member and trying not to need Daddy’s provision for these things, as if maybe she was afraid deep down that it wasn’t really there. She was controlled by the two fears that Daddy had designed the FFF to be free from: the fear of sinning and the fear of being sinned against, the fear of messing up and the fear of being hurt.
Daddy, however, was not worried about Baby, because all of her failure only meant He had to forgive her more, which He did, and that only made her more Forgiven, which gave her even more power to Forgive. So every way in which she had been a terrible member of the FFF actually was part of His plan to make her a better one. (Like I said, Daddy was a genius like that).
The first baby step in becoming a fighting member of the FFF was to be able to hear and to be able to speak one simple sentence. It was the seemingly simple but incredibly difficult sentence “I forgive you.” It was only three words and four syllables, but it was hard to hear and it was hard to say. Sometimes, Daddy could say “I forgive you” a thousand times and Baby still couldn’t hear Him. Sometimes even when He made her brothers and sisters say it out loud to her with Him, she still couldn’t hear either of them (although having other people say it with Daddy definitely helped).
So Daddy practiced saying “I forgive you” to Baby every day, and she practiced listening, and hearing Him, and believing Him the first time, because as long as she thought forgiveness was so hard to come by, she’d never be free from her fear of her own mistakes.
Those three short words were also incredibly hard to say. Sometimes Baby choked on them for years before she could get them out of her mouth. Usually she at least wanted to punish the person for a few days… So Daddy’s next step was to practice saying them together, like a tongue twister, until she could both hear and speak His heart.
And then besides that really hard simple sentence, there was a really hard simple question: “Will you forgive me?” That one was four words and five syllables, and it was usually the hardest of all.
And it was because of all these wonderful plans Daddy was planning that He was sitting in the living room now with a pile of clean laundry, sewing FFF badges on all of Baby’s shirts. She was sitting on the floor playing peek-a-boo with the clothes and putting them on her head and then looking up at Him to see if He was smiling at her. He was.
And the reason that Daddy sewed badges not just on one of Baby’s shirts, or two shirts, or a lot of shirts, but on ALL the shirts, was that Baby still spewed fruit puree all over herself several times a day and needed Him to change her clothes over and over again, as babies do, but no matter how many times He had to change her along the way, she would still be a member of His Forgiven Forgiveness Force because she would still be Forgiven.