Last week I was trying to fit too much into one day (I do that a lot). I had a list of places and things to accomplish before we went to pick up the girls from school, and I waited until the laaaaast minute to load the boys up into the car and drive to the school. On the way over I comforted myself with the thought that carpool typically goes 30 minutes late, so I surely had plenty of time. But as soon as I rounded the corner I noticed that there was no one in the parking lot. Insert sinking feeling – “My girls are going to hate me,” I thought.
Keller was having a full-on meltdown at this point, because I’d woken him up from his nap without enough time to acclimate. I could see the girls waiting for me through the glass window of the school lobby and the walk inside to get them seemed to last forever. As soon as we left the building Emma burst into tears, “I thought you were never coming”.
My heart sank and I hugged her, told her I loved her, and said I would never forget to come get them. We loaded everybody up and I wanted to defend myself. I wanted to make sure that everybody in the van knew that at the last school meeting they said that my arrival time today would’ve technically been on time, but instead I felt a wave of conviction. It’s not about being right, Mary Beth. It’s about humility and restoring peace.
So right there in the school parking lot we had a come-to-Jesus meeting…me and my four kids. I told them that mommies sometimes mess up. That we are selfish with our time and forgetful and not organized and that we need repentance. I told them all I was sorry and I asked them to forgive me.
It is amazing to me that simple acts of worship diffuse the tense energy almost immediately. Our van got quiet and still and the kids hung on my every word. Emma said through tears, “Yes! Of course we forgive you mummy!”
The next morning we had our typical routine of running around grabbing breakfast to eat and a bottle for Hugh and my gym clothes and their backpacks until everything settles quietly into the commute. We watch the sunrise every morning and this time Emma reminded me not to be late that afternoon. I assured her that I would make it a point to come early and she said to me in the kindest voice,
“Mum, it’s okay. We forgave you!”
It felt good to be forgiven.
Sometimes I think we think it’s beneath us to ask our kids for forgiveness. We want to make sure they know who is in charge and point out what they’ve done wrong so they can fix it. After all, we’re training them. Not the other way around. When we feel a tinge of regret or guilt we tell ourselves it won’t make that much of a difference to say those simple words and ask that simple question. Sometimes I believe we’re not even sure how to go about apologizing to our children when we never experienced it from our own parents growing up.
Humility is essential to any relationship and asking for forgiveness is the state of vulnerability our children need to see us in. How will they know that it is more than okay to admit mistakes and apologize when they do not see us regularly admitting our own faults? How will they know that life is not about being right, but restoring peace to relationships when they’ve never seen us model that type of example? Our children will feel belittled and unimportant when we insist on issues being “our way or the highway” and will withdraw or act out when we do not take the time to listen to their feelings and recognize hurt.
Do you ask forgiveness from your kids? Not just say your sorry, but go the extra step and ask? Is there anything hindering your relationships today?
Psalm 79:9 – “Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake.”