For me to tell my husband “I’m sorry” is SO much easier than saying why I’m sorry AND then asking him for forgiveness. For the longest time I has such a hard time with this!
Why? Because it’s humbling. In time I got better at admitting to God that I saw my error, but then to go to Terrell… mmm, my pride and stubbornness often delayed me. I just didn’t want to “give”. Sometimes I didn’t want to give admission; other times I didn’t want to give forgiveness.
The catalyst for change in me came as I determined how I wanted our children to handle reconciliation. When our they were preschoolers, I devised a strategy for apologies:
1. Tell God what you’re sorry about and ask for His forgiveness. Smile
at the child and assure her, “God just forgave you, and He’s glad you
2. Tell each other:
One child – Say what you’re sorry about and ask for forgiveness:
I’m sorry I called you a name. Do you forgive me?
Other child – Give forgiveness: I forgive you.
3. Eye contact is a must, and tone must be convincing.
Can I tell you how much fun we all had?!!
Coming up with the plan was easy. Aligning my life to reflect what I taught was another thing. Ugh. I prayed for God’s grace to become a humble giver.
Giving admission and giving forgiveness.
Our kids bickered a good bit over the years, but they also were each other’s favorite friend. When they fought, they dreaded my words, “OK, you know what you need to say…” As they got older, they’d push back with, “He doesn’t mean it.”
Thank God, with plenty of prayer and “Let’s-break-it-down” conversations, they matured. They got it. Having opportunities to be on both sides of forgiveness, children begin to experience that in genuine reconciliation, they both have to participate – every time. Each person needs to say something, to give something – whether they feel like it or not.
Jesus taught, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11.25) Through all those years of “practice”, God was working, growing their hearts to value reconciliation – with people and with Him.
The heart of the verbal exchange is being willing to communicate and make the effort to be humble. Forgiveness is a decision. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble…Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.” (James 4.6,10)