Forgiveness. That’s a hard word. It’s something that we spend a lifetime really learning how to do. I have been reading a book entitled A Mother’s Heart by Jean Fleming. We are studying this book in Mothering Matters. Even though I’ve read the book before, it was years ago when I only had one little adorable child and I thought I knew what I was doing as mom. Things are different now. Now I’m the mother of three adorable (and sometimes very naughty) children and I am beginning to wonder if I really have a clue as to what I’m doing. I’ve found all sorts of insights that I must have missed the first time I read the book and it has been a very encouraging to read it again this year.
The chapter I had come to this week was on showing our love to our children. I was convicted in all sorts of areas, like our tone of voice we use when talking to our children, and the way we should sometimes put aside our “rights” as an individual in order to show our children how important they are to us. And then she mentioned forgiveness. When our children do something wrong, do we forgive them? I had never really thought about this before. Sure I have been trying to work on my response to my children when they do something wrong, but I hadn’t thought of it in terms of forgiveness. Obviously this doesn’t mean we don’t discipline them in an appropriate manner and discuss with them what they’ve done wrong. But then, Jean says, we need to “deal with that child as if his misbehavior never happened.” She even says we should use the words “I forgive you,” with our child. I have to admit, those are words I don’t often say to my children.
These thoughts were in my mind over the last couple of days. And of course, God gave me lots of opportunities to test them. But perhaps because it wasn’t really sinking in and being implemented, I was hit hard this morning.
Yesterday I made mocha truffles as our Christmas candy. My plan was to distribute them to Sunday School teachers and other special people in our lives as a way to say thank for a year of service to our family. Elise helped me as I finished them up last night and they were beautiful. We ran out of candy coating, but we figured we either save some plain or I’d go pick up some more to finish them next week. I carefully put all the truffles away in a tupperware container and put them in the refrigerator.
This morning, I was called out of bed by Will, who needed toilet paper in the bathroom. As I then took the boys back to their room to instruct them as always to play quietly in their room until breakfast I was shocked to find every single truffle on the floor of the boys room. They had obviously been not only eating the little balls, but rolling or throwing them across the room. Will has tried to convince me that this was all Seth’s doing, and that he had nothing to do with it this time. I’m not sure I believe him, but I was really too shocked at the time to pursue it.
I picked up all the truffles I could find (I know I’ve missed some because every once in awhile one of the boys will come out with chocolate on his mouth or a truffle in his hand), and returned them to their tupperware box in the refrigerator. I debated in my mind about how bad it would be to package them up anyway and take them to the teachers at church. I decided it probably wasn’t a good idea, and that this year it would have to be the thought that counts as far as the teacher gifts. (If you are one of my kids teachers, please know that you were thought of and that we are very thankful for you, and I’m sorry you won’t be receiving truffles this year, unless you want to take your chances with carpet fluff and other such things from the boy’s floor).
When I went to take a shower and get dressed this morning, I have to admit I shed tears over those truffles. And sometime in the midst of the whole ordeal, I remembered the call to forgiveness. Forgiving our kids isn’t always easy. Forgiving someone for making a mistake when they did it on accident is one thing. Forgiving someone when they knew that what they were doing was wrong and aren’t really that sorry for it, is harder. But when I thought through things as my head cleared, I did realize that in the mind of my little 2 and 3 year old boys things look a lot different. When I saw the truffles, I was hurt. I had been robbed of the time I spent yesterday making them, their teachers had been robbed of the gifts I had planned to give them, and I was even robbed of the money I spent on the ingredients. But those things hadn’t even entered Seth and Will’s mind. All they knew was that they had gotten into some candy and got carried away having fun with it. It probably never entered their mind that their actions had consequences for the other people around them. And that realization helps me be able to forgive them. I assume though, as they get older and their understanding increases, it will only get harder and harder to forgive, and yet, more and more important. In the meantime, I think I will look into buying a refrigerator lock.