A regular fight erupted in the backyard. My three little ones, two six year olds and one seven year old, sounding like a 2 a.m. bar brawl.
She isn’t sharing! He’s being mean to me! You’re not my friend anymore!
Head throbbing and blood pressure mounting, I called them inside.
“What’s the problem?”
Wrong question. At once, three screeching voices blasted the others, complaining of this and that and all matter of unfairness. In spite of their fervor, it was all nonsense. Petty complaints and ridiculous responses. Childish, in every sense of the word. Which was not surprising, since they are, in fact, children.
“No more.” I raised a single hand. Maybe my voice, too. “I’ve heard enough. You’re not being nice to each other. That’s all there is to it. And you need to knock it off.”
Quiet. Finally. They nodded little heads and stared at me wide-eyed.
“Now,” I exhaled. “What do you need to say to each other?”
They answered, without hesitating, looking from one to another. “I’m sorry.”
Satisfied, I asked one more question. “Now, what do you say in response?”
Again, they didn’t blink: “I forgive you. Now let’s go play.”
In all my mess-ups as a mom, it was a beautiful thing to know at least one lesson is sticking. Families—people—aren’t perfect. Own your stuff, forgive quickly, and move on.
But I don’t do that so well. I correct it in little ones, but miss it in myself. I gripe and complain. Hold grudges, circle gossip, and retaliate. I may not throw physical punches, but I know how to throw a look and withhold love.
This morning I started my day with Psalm 103:11-12:
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love . . . as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions . . .”
That bad attitude I carried around like stinking garbage last week? Gone. The snap of criticism I wielded at my child? Removed. The complaining and arguing and refusing to forgive and love? That’s been absolved as well.
Because “…so great is his love.”
Relief. And, at the same time, grief. How can I drown in such a great love, and yet not share a drop of it with someone else?
She isn’t sharing! He’s being mean to me!
Yes, we adults can be childish. We walk by an offender at the grocery store without a glance. We unfriend and unfollow, and say without saying, “You’re not my friend anymore!” We’re children in the backyard, not playing nice. And we need to knock it off.
I don’t want the One who loves me so to hear my screeching, petty complaints. Instead, I want to be the child who remembers her Father’s lesson:
Own your stuff. Forgive quickly. And move on.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” —1 Peter 4:8
Leave a comment!
What one relationship needs your covering, forgiving love?