Life Lessons: The Gift of Apology
Prior to having children I had visions of imparting copious amounts of wisdom and knowledge to them. I thought endlessly about all of the things I would teach them and how I would discipline better than some of the parents of the children I taught because “my child would not do such things.”
I look back at my naïve youthfulness and laugh at myself. The truth is no one really knows how to parent until parenthood arrives. The greater secret is that even in the midst of parenthood, we are still ill-prepared, desperate for guidance, and prayerful that we aren’t messing this entire thing up.
My children happen to be little walking and talking mirrors, reflections of my greatest deficiencies in Christ in more ways than I can count some days. Our similar sinful nature bonds us and. at times. binds us from living out truth.
It was a tough week in our home. Dad was missing from our evenings with late nights at the office and a few board meetings in the mix, leaving Mama to run the circus of extracurricular activities, homework schedules, and somehow managing to fill the bellies of these little people too. By week’s end, Mama was utterly exhausted and spent. With no basketball games on the schedule for Saturday morning, the possibility of not having to rise early and be somewhere immediately provided a deep sigh of relief to all as we kicked off our weekend.
Enter Saturday morning. 6 a.m./ Two children awake and attempt to play upstairs after discovering their parents are still in bed. Shrill piercing screams of torment blast into our bedroom--the kind you can’t ignore. No pillow can mask that level of nonsense. The insane pattern continued for nearly 30 minutes. Sibling One teases or takes something from Sibling Two. Sibling Two loses their mind and reverts to shrill shrieks of “Give it to ME! Give it to ME!”
I wish I could say I calmly walked up the stairs and went Mary Poppins on my kids. Instead it looked and sounded a little more like the character Anger from the movie Inside Out as the wrath of awoken Mama filled the area.
Shortly after marching downstairs, a child appeared with a handwritten note that read:
You can sell me if you like. I’m sorry for teasing <insert sibling name here> and keeping you awake. Do you forgive me?
My child’s quickness to apologize, ask for forgiveness, and ability to extend the olive branch to restore fellowship astounds me and challenges me. They kicked off the day being jerks. I stormed upstairs and one upped them with my jerkmanship. We were a family of jerks by 7 am that morning, but here was a child genuinely apologizing for their jerkhood and challenging me in my own. Yep, we are all in need of a Savior in this household.
Apologies pave the way for restoration. Apologies require a certain level of humility that is derived from an abiding and flourishing fellowship with our Abba Father. Left to ourselves, sincere apologies are impossible. To admit wrong, ask for forgiveness, and seek restoration or reconciliation with offended parties is faith lived out.
Proverbs 14:9 tells us, “Fools mock at the guilt offering, but the upright enjoy acceptance.” This encourages us to avoid foolishness and acknowledge our guilt seeking to reconcile it. My child convicted me in my own efforts with their quick apology for their early morning shenanigans.
In my adult life, I have watched some friendships wither away or peak out because apologies and reconciliations were avoided or refused. It grieved me primarily because walking away from friendships for such reasons ultimately communicated that true friendship never existed there. Authentic relationship requires apologies, forgiveness, and reconciliation because not one of us is above messing something up along the journey. Whether this skill was modeled or not for us in our own family of origin, ultimately we must learn to be people who apologize better, forgive quicker, and seek reconciliation sooner.
The Lord is using my children’s example in their relations to us as parents to teach me to be more like Jesus, and less hardened by the disappointments of this world. I once dreamed about how much I would teach my children prior to becoming a parent, and having since become one, I now sit back amazed about how much they actually teach me. We serve a God who is quick to forgive and offered the ultimate model of the redemptive process to us when He sent His son. Modeling and practicing the humbling experiences of apologies is a life skill that we gift our children with each time we participate in the process with and before them.
Nicole Miertschin has loved the beauty of the written word since she was a young child. Having also dedicated her life to Christ at a young age, the written word and faith have always intertwined for her. When she is not in the formal classroom encouraging children in their own creative writing efforts, her hilarious husband and four children circus provide plenty of material for her writing adventures.