“I’m sorry,” he says, over and over again. “Mom. I’m sorry.” This time his tone demands forgiveness. I don’t doubt the sincerity of his apology, but I do doubt the sincerity of his remorse. Because, you see, when he’s been told that Dad will have to deal with this situation, suddenly his apologies are much more fervent.
He apologizes over and over wanting an immediate and swift reply from me. Sometimes I’m able to give it. Other times I’m so frustrated that I can’t immediately verbalize my forgiveness. Of course he’s forgiven, I just need a minute to mean it when I say it.
“I said I’m sorry!” His voice has raised a decibel and he’s noticeably frustrated at my silence.
“I heard you say it, son,” I respond. “Now I want you to prove it.”
“Huh?” comes the standard reply.
“Prove to me you’re sorry.”
“By changing your behavior.”
For the first time, he is silent. Blissfully silent. My firstborn’s downfall in life will be his tongue unless he finds a way to harness it.
He walks out of the room and closes himself in his homework nook. For twenty minutes he is back there, working feverishly on something. He comes out after a bit and hands me a piece of paper. He’s drawn me a picture and written the words, “Mom, I love you. I am really sory and I want your forgivness. I will do better.”
And just like that, forgiveness granted and relationship restored. He still had to discuss with Daddy the loss of self control that led to the altercation, but for the rest of the afternoon, he did just what I asked. He proved himself. He waited just a second longer before responding. When his sister made him angry, he left the room in a huff – a grand improvement over how he normally responds.
He proved his remorse by trying to reign in his tongue. That was all I asked.
How often do I come before the Holy of Holies with yet another, “Lord, I’m sorry!” How often do I skip through my day uttering “Forgive me, Lord,” without a hint of weight or remorse hidden inside my words?
How often do I choose not to reign in my tongue and just expect instant acceptance despite my unwillingness to work on the behavior?
It’s heavy, when you stop and think about it. My eight year old got the concept of proving it better than I do. His heart is tender and precious. Would that I possessed those same qualities. I’m constantly working on the tenderness of my own heart.
It doesn’t really do just to say it. We expect so much more from our young children when it comes to obedience than we do of ourselves. But we all must operate under the same challenge.
This is a Walk with Him Wednesdays post, linked to Ann Vaskamp’s site. Each week, Ann leads her readers to take their faith a step deeper.
From Ann’s website –
For one more week: … might we explore: The Practice of Hope… What does it look like to believe? How do you practice your faith day to day? How do you share that faith, deepen faith in Christ, live that faith out in the midst of fears? The whole community looks forward to your prayerful reflections stories, ideas….
For more practices of hope, visit A Holy Experience.