The One Thing I Hope My Son Learns From Us As Parents: How to Apologize & How to Forgive

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I’ve been reflecting a lot on the dynamics of healthy relationships, and how you want your kids to grow up – who you want them to be as they watch and learn from you.  We send our children messages whether we’re aware of it or not, messages of adults always being right, never having to admit making a mistake, or maybe even refusing to ever humble themselves enough to make an apology when one is crucially needed.

I think… the absolute worst thing for my son, would be for him to grow into a man who cannot admit when he’s wrong or apologize when he knows he’s offended or hurt someone.  Paired with this, would be the inability for him to truly learn what forgiveness looks like – or to gain an unhealthy victim attitude of, “accept all trespassers back into your life, even if they make no effort to change or meet you half-way in reconciliation.”  The effects of these two important life lessons on my son as he grows up and has his own family, will either make his own family stronger & healthier, or spiral into a darkness of devastation, anger, and destruction of relationships.  I’ve seen both firsthand in my husband’s and my family trees… they are examples we will (and have) used to teach our son what apologizing, forgiveness, and reconciliation truly means.

In our family, in our home, we are working on a family mission statement – part of it includes being people who admit when we’re wrong, and are quick to apologize to one another when we know their feelings have been hurt.  We also are teaching  our son the importance of accepting an apology, and whole-heartedly forgiving someone.

I truly don’t undstand how people can go on living life without living out these basic principles.  The only way to live in God’s beauty of joy and happiness (& definitely peace of mind), is to be this kind of person.

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Lips of Kindness

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I was reminded this weekend the importance of being careful how you speak to people; having someone speak horribly to me, the wounds are still fresh and I’ve been given a sort of clarity about the situation.  When you put yourself out there, when you try to do anything worthwhile in this world, you will always receive some amount of criticism or even blind hatred & harsh judgment.  We live in a world that frankly doesn’t seem to value humanity – behind computer screens, people may believe they can speak whatever they want to another, regardless of the effects of their words on that person’s spirit.

Words are so powerful, and boy can they hurt.  Even the bible states that life and death are in the power of the tongue, and people will reap the consequences of what they say to another – for good and bad.  Whatever they are, words are not meaningless characters, they carry meaning and have the power to slash someone to ribbons. It was a beautiful reminder for me to continue in lifting others up, encouraging people, and loving people – even people who actively hate me and all that I represent.  

It made me think about the importance of speaking kindness and love into our children.  If a child isn’t regarded with respect, love, and given grace and understanding when they’re growing up, they might have a hard time understanding these things when older, and choose to berate and assault anyone who disagrees with them.

Even in those rare occurrences where a parent may lose control with their child and spew something horrible they didn’t mean, it is so important to go back to your child and amend things!  It really doesn’t matter what circumstances led to the loss of control, you must seek to “dress the wound before infection sets in,” (Dr. James Dobson).

Speak love into others… speak with lips of kindness.

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat,

known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths.

These people have an appreciation, a sensitivity,

and an understanding of life that fills them with

compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern.

Beautiful people do not just happen.

~ Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

It’s Unfair

“Faith’s most severe tests come not when we see nothing,

but when we see a stunning array of evidence that seems to prove our faith vain.”

Elisabeth Elliot

Life is unfair, you can’t control who you are born to, what happens to you growing up, sicknesses that may come, unexpected heartbreak, even divorce many times, is out of our control now.  You may have to watch your children suffer with something you can’t help them with, or worse, you may be the one to bury your child.  Life is unfair.

It’s in times like this that we doubt all we thought we knew – if you’re a good person, good things should certainly happen to you – right? 

God loves you, He allows horrible things to happen yes, but don’t miss the blessing that might be hidden in the heartache.  You might learn from your child, lessons you never would’ve imagined, through watching them struggle in life with a disability or disease.  A divorce that left you broken and disillusioned could propel you to learn to lean on God for your sustinance.  Your story of pain, no matter where it came from, could help another have hope through theirs.  Your heart will change and become something of beauty as it is greatly enlarged through suffering – you won’t be the same person you were – you develop kindness, goodness, because you’ve felt suffering, you are no longer blind to the plight of other people.  Life gains meaning.  Heartache whether for your own life, your child’s, or because of unfair loss has a way of developing you into a stronger yet more tender-hearted person, it develops character (and don’t we all want that).

Don’t give in to bitterness, it might feel hopeless, and there will be moments of struggling with pain and anger at a bad hand you might’ve been dealt in life, but don’t let these feelings linger long.  Acknowledge them, feel their pain, and release them  – forgive. 
It is the only way to live your life in happiness, you have to let go of the situation, the people, the things in life that hurt you – in truth, we don’t know what they were thinking or even going through themselves.  Life is a journey, many things won’t make sense until years after the events happen.

You might see emptiness now, but God wants to fill your life with good things.

You might feel hopeless or helpless about your child’s problems, but wait on God, He is always working “Of one thing I am perfectly sure: God’s story never ends with ‘ashes.'”  He is not done with your child, or with the beauty He can accomplish through a horrible situation.  There is always reason to hope.  God, even when all circumstances point to the thought that our faith is in vain, will give us a life of abundance – of patience when we’re at our witt’s end, of love when we feel hatred, of joy when we should feel bitterness, of peace when the world would think we should feel distraught.

God’s love keeps me going – He has never failed me – He constantly, even in the midst of trials and horror, has given me life – and not just “life” but life in abundance!  Beauty from my world of ashes.

“He sent Me (Jesus)… to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead of tears and sadness.” 

Isaiah 61:1-3