Forgive ~ stop feeling angry or resentful towards someone for an offense, flaw, or mistake.
We’ve worked hard to teach our kids the difference between saying, “I’m sorry” and “Will you forgive me?” They are usually quick to say they are sorry for a wrong action, but to ask for forgiveness, well, those words don’t just roll off the tongue. Why is that?
Because it takes humility.
It takes admitting that the action you just did was out of the boundaries that God has for you. Asking forgiveness means you are asking another person to cancel the feelings of anger or hurt that your action just created in them. Learning to ask for forgiveness is a powerful life lesson that will help our kids far into adulthood.
Several years ago, my humble-yourself-and-ask-for-forgiveness thing was tested to the max.
On a particularly not-so-good day, my peace-and-calming-speak-in-love radar was way off. In a moment of breaking up sibling fights and diffusing arguments for what must have been the gazillionth time, I lost it. I raised my voice. I spoke in anger. I stepped outside of the boundary.
I was faced with a decision to make, one that I’d asked my kids to make many times before. Would I humble myself and ask my kids to forgive me, or would I let my pride take over and hope they forgot the whole thing?
The first option felt like the single most humbling thing I’d ever done in my life, but the second option would mean I would be missing out on a very important opportunity to model this forgiveness thing.
Did you know that walking in humility and asking for forgiveness tears down walls and builds bridges?
In one moment, anger and tears can be the emotions overwhelming the room, but once forgiveness enters in, that anger and those tears are replaced with joy and love (well, maybe there’s still a few tears). I explained to my kids that responding in anger and raising my voice was wrong and as I asked, “Will you forgive me?”, it was so clearly visible how the room softened.
I want my kids to learn to ask for forgiveness and to forgive others. Merely telling them to do it won’t cut it. I have to model it for them. My imperfect self seems to get this opportunity to do this regularly. I hate it, but I love it.
I’ve never seen the words, “I’m sorry” in the Bible, but I’ve read plenty of passages talking about forgiveness.
It’s so powerful that Jesus says it’s only when we forgive others that He will forgive us. I’m pretty sure that indicates the importance of the daily practice of this powerful act.
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. – Matthew 6:14-15
Along this parenting journey, I’m always looking for resources to help teach my kids these life lessons I want them to learn. Besides the Bible, another great resource for teaching kids to walk in forgiveness is Mercer Mayer’s We All Need Forgiveness. The timeless classic tales of Little Critter draw kids in, and this particular book shows how forgiveness is a two-sided action. We must ask, and we must receive.
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How do you teach your kids forgiveness? Is there a time when you had to ask forgiveness from your children?