Lately, there have been a lot of
"I was wrong.
I dishonored you. I spoke harshly to you.
Will you forgive me?"
spoken at our house.
No, it's not the kids apologizing to each other. Or to their parents.
Sometimes it's Mama... sometimes it's daddy... asking our kids' forgiveness.
Why would a 30+ year old mother and father ask a 4, 3, and 2 year old to forgive us? Isn't that kind of... humbling?
What's humbling is from the beginning God made us. Erik, Sarah, Catherine, Camille, Jack, and Jude.
The only distinction between us and our children is that they happen to be little. So little, in fact, that God entrusted them to us - to care for, love, teach, train, to walk with. He gave Erik and me a role to play in these little people's lives. But that role is temporary.
We are eternal. If the average human lifespan is 80 years, and Erik and I had children in our thirties,that's 50 years that we'll relate to Catherine, Camille, Jack and Jude as parent/child. 50 years is a drop in the bucket compared to eternity, where we hope to relate to them as brothers and sisters in Christ.
God made Catherine, Camille, Jack and Jude. We want to honor them.
This doesn't mean that we give them everything they want. Part of honoring God and honoring our children in our job as "parents" is having the responsibility and the courage to correct, discipline, and protect. To say no. To teach them to live under authority.
Even though we are parents, Erik and I relate with our children. We too are under authority. Parenting isn't a position of pride or superiority. It's not an ego trip; I'm not right just because I'm bigger and older! With God, there are no double standards. We are only in authority because God has given us the role to lovingly care for and guide these little ones until they are able to hear His voice and be under His authority.
When we see our children as people who are eternal and our role as parent is temporal, this changes how we relate to my children. How we communicate with them. How we treat them. How we value them. How we respond when we wrong them.
I don't always honor my children. I speak harshly. My judgment isn't fair. I will disappoint them. Dishonor them. Sometimes I treat guests in our home with more dignity than my children. I will fail my children.
This is where we both need Jesus.
God will never fail our children. His love won't change. His judgment isn't skewed. He is the one we can point our kids to. The sooner our children are able to transfer their trust and dependence on Jesus - the good Shepherd - the better!
As for us, flawed humans and parents, we need Jesus, too. Jesus has shed His own blood on the cross to forgive me for dishonoring God and my children. I need His forgiveness. He not only died for my sin, but He also shares His life with me, that I might choose Him when I'm frustrated or annoyed. That my children might experience His life and love in me, and not my own human responses.
When we fail, we need to ask forgiveness. Especially of our children. Additionally, it's a great opportunity for us to model to our children how to be reconciled with God and others.
Children are so forgiving - often I've had their little arms wrap around my neck in kind forgiveness. Being welcomed into the arms of your child or spouse or the Lord is joyful, sweet, humbling restoration.