To my daughters, when you are correcting your small ones,
We have our little routine down, don’t we? You know it well: infraction, discipline, forgiveness. You know that I never discipline you, not even with the tiniest flick on the hand, without praying with you afterwards. Our prayer is usually very short and simple.
You say, often through sobs and tears, “Father in Heaven, please forgive me for disobeying my mom” or “Father in Heaven, please forgive me for not being joyful” or “Father in Heaven, please forgive me for not loving my sister as You commanded”.
And then it is my turn to remind you that He is faithful and just, that He forgives us of all of our sins. I hold you and say “Now, repeat after me, ‘all forgiven’!” More often than not, those two words clear the tears and I can see the relief in your eyes. On a good day, I even get an extra hug, and you are off again to play.
When you are playing my role, when God has given you your own children to train, do not ever miss that last step, no matter how busy or distracted you are, no matter what else is happening in the background. Hold up your child’s chin and say to them “You are all forgiven!”
And now here is the hardest part: you actually have to mean that! You have to forgive them! Forgive them for embarrassing you, forgive them for forgetting, forgive them for offending our Heavenly Father. If He has put their sins as far as the East is from the West, then so must you. You may not hold on to the tiniest bit of bitterness or anger. You say they are forgiven, you have to forgive them.
You have to forgive them because it is highly likely that they will leave the room and hit their sister again…within 10 minutes! You have to forgive them because they will probably throw another big fit…that same afternoon! And when you gently take their hand and lead them back to your room for more correction, you are the one who has to have a clean heart. Their past sin (from 30 seconds ago) is forgiven, and that means mom doesn’t remember it. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Their sin is gone, washed away. If Christ’s blood is sufficient for the Father then it must be sufficient for you.
What do you think will happen if you are not forgiving your children all day, every day? If you are counting the times they have needed correction for the same offense? If you are keeping tabs on their infractions? You will pile their sin up, where Christ has already washed it clean. Your voice will get louder, your grip tighter, your tone shorter. Your patience will be chiseled away. Your long-suffering will not be long, only suffering. And worst of all, they will not believe that they are forgiven.
“You are all forgiven!” Say it for them, and say it for yourself. Say it to yourself if that helps, “they are all forgiven”! And when you are talking to them for the fourteenth time about jumping on the couch, you will be able to speak to them as if it were the first time. Practice memory loss when it comes to their sins. Forgive. Forget.
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.”