Forgiveness Can Be Hard
Forgiveness can be hard to offer! Especially when you have to forgive yourself. Parenting at church has challenged me to offer forgiveness to myself– week after week. Let me explain. The average Sunday morning rolls around and we prepare to attend church with our kids. I have grand expectations about how my children should sit quietly during the service. They will entertain themselves with the two overflowing bags of goodies that I’ve deliberately packed the night before: magnet dolls, crackers, crayons, finger puppets, Cheerios, books, toy cars, granola bars, wooden lacing shapes, white boards, etc. However, enter the real world Sunday morning at church and both kids are crying, darting through the chair rows, running on stage, crawling underneath the chairs, throwing toys at the poor family behind us, and grinding all those snacks into dust using only their fingers.
Many Sunday mornings I’ve had to take a deep breath (or three) and offer myself forgiveness that my children are not perfectly behaved during church. This forgiveness did not originate with me though. I’ve learned to be kind to myself through the forgiveness and love I’ve received from other church-goers. (And they’ve learned that forgiveness from Jesus who offered it freely to all of us.) The elderly woman who comments, “I love watching your kids dance and be happy to be at church.” The parent who is one step ahead of me in parenting, “I miss my kids crawling under the chairs. Man, I never would have said that 5 years ago.” The church staff member who catches my eye, nods, and chases after my child as he runs away for the third (yes, third) time. That simple nod told me to sit down, listen to the sermon, and know that my child was being cared for. The couple who purposely finds me after the service to offer a kind, “You’re doing a great job! You’re teaching your kids to worship corporately and that’s a huge gift.” So, even when some Sundays I don’t feel like it, I remember to offer myself forgiveness.