Imagine this, you have wronged someone, and now you must apologize. You feel horrible for having wronged someone, and are dreading the humble pie you must now force yourself to consume. For a moment, you consider hiding it under the rug, but then comes the crushing conviction of the Holy Spirit.
Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;
Hebrews 12:14-15 (NKJV)
The relationship has suffered a blow, creating an, uncomfortable at best, imbalance. We recognize that for relationships to be healthy there must be a proper balance of give and take. We know what we must do, we must face the one we offended, and offer, not only an apology, but a sincere apology…, sans excuses. It hurts just to think about it.
The truth is though, that an apology is only half of the equation. All too often, forgiveness is left out and the imbalance remains. As a society we have accepted “it’s okay” as a replacement for the all-important, “I forgive you”. So much so that, deep in his heart, the offender knows, it’s only okay until something comes up again. At which time the offended party is free to remind you of your past.
Even though it seems that they offer forgiveness much quicker than we as adults do, it’s not that different with children. The relationship balance is indeed upset when one offends the other. The experts encourage us as parents to “choose our battles”. Then forgiveness is a battle we must not only choose for our children, but we must win.
In an attempt to restore balance, all too often (just like the rest of us) young parents focus heavily on the repentance side. “What do you say?” We have heard asked and even demanded from children in hopes of a sincere apology. But more often than not, forgiveness is again left out of the equation, or treated too lightly leaving instead, a heavy heart of guilt. How many children have we seen apologize, then walk away sad, feeling rejected by everyone in the room?
Can I just say, that to ask your child to tell his offender “it’s ok” is a grave misuse of true forgiveness. Firstly, it is NOT ok! It is not ok to hurt, it is not ok to take something from someone, and it is not ok to talk rude to someone. The offence was sin, and your child needs to be released from his sin just as much as we do. And, the one who has been offended, according to scripture, has a huge stake in the proper handling of the offence as well!
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
I saw this delicate balance restored many years ago when my Aunt had to discipline my cousin. While I do not remember the infraction, I do remember the steps taken to restore order. First came the discipline, followed by the expected apology, which of course came with tears and disappointment, leaving guilt and an imbalanced relationship between Mother and Daughter. It wasn’t until my Aunt offered verbal forgiveness (along with a hug), that the balance was quite visibly restored.
True forgiveness from the heart offered verbally, is the part of the equation that restores a healthy balance to a broken relationship.