It was a Saturday a couple of weeks ago. Ryan was playing with Levi in our room on the bed and I was in Levi’s room next door putting laundry away. For just a moment Ryan stepped away from the bed to get something from the closet and Levi—of course—quickly followed after him, toppling off the bed and down to the ground causing a massive thud and quite a fright.
Ryan scooped up our little screaming child to console him as I muttered angrily under my breath about the fact that he knew better than to leave our extremely mobile (and fast) kid unattended.
But really, it all happened in a matter of seconds.
As quickly as my mama bear anger rose, my loving wife sympathy rose soon after. In all honesty I knew that I could have just as easily done the same thing. (And—no doubt—I’ve already had my fair share of parenting blunders in the last eight months.)
I went in to make sure everything was alright and also to tell Ryan that it was okay and I wasn’t angry, and found him apologizing to Levi and asking his forgiveness.
When I commented to Ryan that it was wonderful to see his humility with our child by asking his forgiveness even before Levi could understand, Ryan quickly responded with, “it’s probably more for me than for him.”
As parents we are bound to make mistakes – some out of ignorance and just not knowing any better, and others out of carelessness or selfishness or any other number of reasons. The important thing is not that we are “prefect parents” – we all know this will never happen! The important thing is that we are quick to admit our mistakes, humble ourselves before our kids, and ask for their forgiveness. (And it’s never too early to start.)
We all know that when someone asks for forgiveness it is much easier to not hold a grudge against them. Of course we all want our children to grow up with as little reason to hold grudges toward us as possible so that we can maintain strong, healthy relationships.
And that alone is a great reason to ask for forgiveness as we go.
But what we fail to remember is that much of the time asking for forgiveness is just as important for us as it is for the person we’re asking it of. (Because as humbling as it is, we all desire that feeling of being “right” by others.)
The reverse of that is also true: extending forgiveness to someone who has wronged us can be just as much for our own sake (or sometimes even more) than it is for the person we’re forgiving.
Because what if that person never offers an apology? Or what if they don’t see or agree that they’ve done something wrong?
Does that gives us license to forever hold a grudge?
Maybe… But I have learned that forgiveness is one of the single most important keys to having a healthy inner world. It’s impossible to grow and heal and be free within yourself when you hold unforgiveness and bitterness in your heart. (Unfortunately, even lessons we’ve already learned can be easily forgotten.)
I was reminded of this key as I took my shower this morning. There I was shaving my legs, singing “Old McDonald had a Farm” to entertain Levi as he played on the bathroom floor, and all of a sudden it occurred to me: there was a situation in my life where I had not yet forgiven someone who had hurt me. I had been waiting for an apology… and yet this morning I realized it might never come.*Light bulb moment.*
I was left with two choices: grow bitter and resentful at the situation and the person, or forgive and let go of my negative feelings so that they wouldn’t fester and become worse.
Guess which one I chose?
I chose to forgive.
Another way of saying “forgive” is to say “let go”. I needed to let go of my attitude and let go of my expectations.
Does this mean I become a doormat? Does this mean that I will never feel any more pain in regards to the situation? Does this justify the offence? Does this mean that I move on and pretend that it never existed in the first place?
No it does not.
But it does release me from the negativity within. And if I don’t let go of that… no doubt it will fester making me hardened and bitter and resentful.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to become a cranky old woman.
And I can tell you from experience, it feels good to let go. There’s a power in forgiveness that’s difficult to express unless you’ve experienced it yourself.
So how about you?
Dear friends, is this a life-lesson that you need to learn… or re-learn? Is there something in your life that you need to let go of? Or someone you need to forgive? How about with your children? Are you teaching them what it means to be humble? No doubt we instruct them to apologize to a sibling or a friend when they’ve done something wrong… but do you ask forgiveness of your children when you’ve made a mistake that involves them or snapped and said something you shouldn’t have? Have you demonstrated to them that you don’t expect perfection, but you do expect that when mistakes are made there should be an honest and heartfelt apology? Do you need to ask for forgiveness or extend forgiveness today?
Relieved to have let go,