Today I had to ask my son for his forgiveness. Like many parents we've tried to teach our children how to treat others how they would like to be treated. We've talked about loving, sharing, and respecting each other. We teach our kids to bless others who may be less fortunate. They routinely ask us for ways they can help the homeless and hungry among us. As Christians, we teach them about the God who created them, and who sent his Son in order to bring them eternal life and relationship with himself. We pray together as a family at night and attend church regularly. Sounds pretty good huh? We are intentional about instilling values in our children because we want them to enjoy proper fellowship with their fellow man as well as their Heavenly Father. We want them to become well rounded, mature adults who are emotionally, physically and spiritually developed. AND most importantly, we don't want them to HIT, SPIT AT, FIGHT, or BITE each other, or do anything else that causes Mommy or Daddy to yell, "STOP IT" 45 times!!!!
Every few nights we sing songs before bed. One favorite goes like this,
"Be ye kind, one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another even as Christ has forgiven you. E-phe-sians four thirty two, ba dum, ba dum, E-phe-sians four thirty two, ba dum, ba dum." (Ephesians 4:32)
Honestly, when we sing that song I'm hoping THEY internalize those words and I don't have to discipline, correct or separate anyone for at least a couple hours.
But today, I was the one who wasn't kind, or tender hearted and had to ask forgiveness from my child. Sparing all the details, I will say I became agitated because my son, instead of asking for help to get his clothes off for bath time began to cry uncontrollably out of frustration. I instructed him and implored him about what he should do and how he should ask, to no avail. The tears were in full force. At this point I became angry, my tone changed, and while I never insulted him (calling him a crybaby) I was not communicating with him in a kind, tender hearted or loving way. I was the antithesis of that song and that verse.
After quickly bathing and dressing him he went downstairs and I went to my room, convicted by the Holy Spirit. And so, I, the daddy, the teacher, the "mature" one, went downstairs and begged for my son's forgiveness. He gave me one of the best hugs I've ever had. Thank God children don't hold grudges very long!
Sometimes, parenting will drive you to your limits. These children that give us so much joy can drive us to our wits end, testing every fiber of our patience. As we teach them right and wrong we must ALWAYS be willing to DEMONSTRATE right and wrong. All the church songs, Bible verses, core values and morals will mean nothing to them as they grow older if we don't live them out in our daily lives. This includes admitting our shortcomings. We must be willing to humble ourselves and ask them for forgiveness when we mistreat them. In word, thought or deed, it will happen. Even the most devoted parents will fall short of perfection at times. When this happens we must be willing to show our children, that while they must obey us, we in turn must obey God. And if that means a 34 year old telling a 3 year old he's sorry, and asking for forgiveness. So be it.
Now I'm the one in tears.