Today’s guest post comes from Jeremy Parks. Jeremy is a Texas native with North Carolina roots, works for IMB in South America. His wife and children tolerate his obsession with cooking, woodturning, and new ways to start campfires. He blogs at SBC Voices.
One of the more difficult-to-teach attributes of Christian living is personal forgiveness. Divine forgiveness of human sin is fairly straightforward: God is gracious, loving, kind, etc, and uses those characteristics to set aside the guilt of our sin. Interpersonal forgiveness is a bit harder to see.
I’ve had times in my life when I was not the most gracious, forgiving person. I’ve worked at it quite deliberately, keeping in mind His graciousness towards me, keeping in mind that my offenders have also been manufactured in the image of God. Those more angst-filled years of my life serve as excellent discipleship fodder for my children, allowing me to draw on some pretty relevant material as I raise my children. In addition, I’ve been able to talk to my kids about how they can forgive others, mainly their siblings. I get to relate my struggles to theirs, and then to the Bible as we seek a solution for others’ bad behavior.
Recently, though, we’ve entered some new territory. For the first time, my kid and I are both angry about the same thing.
There’s been some bad behavior towards my son by a specific group; their identity is irrelevant. My son is pretty angry about having to tolerate this sort of thing, and gets pretty upset when we discuss it. I’m just as indignant, though my outrage is directed more towards the authority figure responsible for this group, the one who should be controlling and monitoring this group’s behavior.
My temptation has been to help my son deal with his emotions, then to address my own need for forgiveness privately. To this point, I’ve done exactly that. However, I think an aspect of raising my child properly is to walk through the forgiveness process together. In general, I try to be pretty open and transparent about the struggles we face as Christian, so why not go through the prayers for graciousness together? Why not learned together how to forgive and move on?
When he gets home from school today, we’ll start. Pray for us as we labor in this; the feelings run deep and will be hard to set aside in the absence of any sort of apology or statement of regret by those responsible.
And consider what struggles you could jointly endure with your kids. It might prepare them for the realities of life a little better.