Forgive, Just As I Have Forgiven You
Cayla Bell

It was so late. I was coming home from working a 10-hour shift, and I was exhausted. Earlier that day my husband had brought our four children into my work to get some dinner. Unbeknownst to him, it was School Spirit Night at my work, and there was standing room only. After several attempts to stand in line to order food, and several attempts of our two-year-old making a break from dad to come behind the counter to see mom, my husband had had enough and told the kids to pack it up; they’d go and get dinner elsewhere. Que the dramatic music of a death of a dearly loved one. My six-year-old drops to her knees in the middle of the restaurant and begins begging her dad not to make them leave. The five-year-old is crying that she’ll be a better daughter, the nine-year-old is angry and yelling that she did nothing wrong and the two-year-old is being football carried out of the establishment by my husband. The amount of embarrassment my husband must have felt at that moment with every single eye on him and this train wreck happening must have felt unbearable at that moment. At last, it was quiet again, and amongst the people, I heard a woman say, “I’m so glad my kids don’t act like that. Their parents need to discipline them better.” I was broken as a mom, once again. 

That night when I got home, my husband was sitting on the couch. He looked exhausted and defeated. I asked him how the rest of his night with the kids had gone, and he let out a heavy sigh telling me that he had brought them home and sent them to bed directly after dinner. He told me how our daughter was screaming at him that she wished we never had them as our kids. How our other daughter was saying hateful things about herself and degrading herself. He talked about how he had to go outside and stand on the front porch and yell out in frustration because our son was being relentless and refused to stay in his room but continued to kick and scream at him. 

All this while, anger was building up inside of me. How dare they. How dare they wish my children away from me. How dare they beat my husband down with words. That is my husband. How dare they enjoy sleeping in a warm bed with full bellies after the way they acted. Do they not know how privileged they are to be a part of this family? How many kids would love to have a dad like theirs who takes them out all together without their mom so they can do fun things? I had half a mind to wake them up and clean the whole house at midnight. Instead, I went to bed, because nothing can be fixed when all you’re seeing is red. 

The next morning, I woke up early. I was still completely riled up and hadn’t slept well the whole night. As I began stomping down the stairs, alerting my children to my presence and the fact that trouble was headed their way, I felt a tug at my heart. Have you ever seen a dog on a shock collar bee-lining straight for something they aren’t supposed to be heading towards and then watch as their head jerks to the side trying to ignore the shock that is meant to redirect their attention? It was that. I was willfully trying to ignore the prompting of the Spirit. 

But God. He is so gracious in our journeys of motherhood. He has so much grace to love us when we are quite unlovable and irrational.  He was quietly whispering to me, “grace and peace begin with forgiveness.” Lord, this is not the time. I am on a mission. But so was He, on a mission to win my children’s souls. He brought my mind back to a sermon I had recently heard. The pastor had said that he had been given the advice from his boss once that each morning when he wakes the first thing he should do is ask God to help him forgive. Just as we have been forgiven, we also would forgive those who wrong us. If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume you have children. As perfect as they are, they will wrong you. They will embarrass you; they will push you to your limit and then right over the edge. They will lie to you. They will use their words to hurt you. And they will do all of this over and over again throughout their entire lives. You can be the world’s best mom. So patient, so kind, consistent in discipline, and still have children who will require forgiveness. This is the curse of living in a fallen and broken world. Relationships are broken and will require forgiveness. I stopped on the third stair from the bottom and silently prayed, “Lord help me to forgive my children. Thank you for wiping my sinful list clean and not holding my shortcomings against me. Forgive me for the sin in my heart. Help me to train up my children now with love, mercy, and peace.” Instantly I was at peace. 

In motherhood, it is crucial to live in truth. The enemy walks around shouting words of condemnation all day and all night. He reminds us that we are not qualified to be mothers, especially unqualified to raise up children in the Lord. Have you seen my thoughts, have you known my heart? It can be pretty dark in there when I am not drowning myself in truth. The truth in that moment of motherhood was that I love my children. I love my husband, and I was angry at them for hurting him. I was angry at them for hurting themselves. I felt like a failure and sometimes when we feel like we are failing we operate in fear instead of truth and peace. “Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8. I won’t hash out how the conversation with my children went, but we all came together crying, speaking our fear, speaking our frustrations, and ended it with speaking our love for one another. They apologized to their dad and felt the weight of forgiveness in their lives as he told them “I forgave you the second you said it, and God will heal the rest of the hurt.” 

Every day we get to choose how we start our days. The power of beginning your day in a state of forgiveness releases any power and hold your flesh and the enemy have on you and gives God the authority to use you in a mighty way to extend grace, peace, and love to a lost and dying world and to edify His church. We need God’s power to help us forgive ourselves, our spouse, our children, our friends, our church, and every other human we encounter. We cannot force peace in our hearts and minds apart from God’s forgiveness. I pray today that as you read this, you would acknowledge your need for forgiveness from God and others and your need to forgive others as well. Join me in this prayer:

Father, thank you for keeping no record of my sins. Thank you for being a gracious God who knows me, who sees the depths of my heart’s wickedness and still calls me child, chosen, free, and forgiven. Today I ask for your help to forgive those in my life who have hurt me. Help me to not grow in bitterness, not to grow cold or weary, but to grow in love. Lord, you are the greatest desire of my heart, and I pray that you would use me today to bring your forgiveness and peace into the lives of those I love dearly and those I struggle to love. Your power is bigger than my unforgiveness so I surrender to you and release my hold so that I can walk upright in your will. Thank you for loving me and dying on the cross for me. Blessed be your Holy name. Amen.

Go in peace <3