I don’t think there is a day that goes by in which I manage to escape extending or asking for forgiveness. I used to think forgiveness was something required of us only a few times in our life for those deepest of offenses, that the smallest of daily altercations were somehow excused from the necessity. But, the more my life becomes intertwined with others, I’m realizing that even seemingly insignificant wrongdoings can accumulate and cultivate bitterness in my heart without my awareness. Whether it is the driver who cut me off during rush hour, the dinner guest who showed up an hour late, or that person who shares their unfiltered opinion on social media all too often, I’m coming to the realization that I must be quick to extend grace rather than judgment.
Certainly, marriage and motherhood have given me deeper insights into what forgiveness really means. There is just no easy way around managing the squabbles that can take place in a household either between siblings, spouses, or extended family members. Unlike with a stranger, I cannot simply walk away from someone I dwell with daily and ignore the tension. Yet, I have found it painfully ironic that I can be the most prideful and least willing to forgive or apologize to the very people I love the most.
My husband and I get on really well, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t times when we act or use words with less thought and more sting. Life happens and we can make mistakes that affect each other in significant ways. Yet, at the heart of it all, we remain on the same team. While we don’t want to make a habit of it, on occasion our children may witness a disagreement between us. If we are intentional and committed to the process of working a matter through to resolution, it will hopefully be a healthy and empowering model for pursuing reconciliation. In fact, we often tell our kids that we are too good of friends not to resolve our disagreement and if it takes time, so be it. Humorously, it’s not uncommon for our disputes to evolve in the discussion so much so that we forget why we were at odds with each other in the first place.
I am certainly just as far from being the perfect parent as I am the perfect wife, and though that realization has taken years to set in, I have had plenty of opportunities to practice asking for forgiveness from my children. Though feeling awkwardly weak the first time to admit that I, the seemingly “wise adult,” was wrong in some particular matter, it has since become easier. Not only that, but my children and I have been able to converse more deeply about why we do or say things we don’t mean and how to try everything within our power to make things right again.
Whether strangers or family, we are all connected to each other. With lives overlapping and rubbing up against each other in this very imperfect world, there are bound to be frequent bumps and collisions. I realize I cannot walk around as if I am made of glass, nor believe the delusion that I live a perfect existence. For the reality is, that there have been many times when I was challenged to extend forgiveness to others for the very act I committed myself not even twenty-four hours earlier. I must be willing to offer grace and forgiveness as often as I am in need of receiving it, practicing the art of living a grit and grace life one, “small” exchange at a time.
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