conversation with my son: forgiving

My children were caught fighting on the school playground. It got physical, loud and mean. She knows how to provoke. He can’t restrain his reaction.

The next morning after cereal bowls dotted with blueberries, gummy vitamins and brushed teeth I gathered my chicks on my bed. My son could not even look at her, still seething. My goal was simple: apologize, forgive, pray.

I began with a prologue on how God went to special lengths to bring them together. I mentioned how important it was to keep their connection clean, not littered with hurt.

Apologies came first. She said sorry for kicking him. He struggled but eventually said sorry, too. Immediately she smiled, ‘it’s okay, I love you still.’ So quick to apologize and easy to forgive, I envy my sweet girl.

Now it was his turn. He couldn’t. He could not look at her or forgive her. She hurt him, embarrassed him in front of his friends and got him into a heap of trouble. When I pushed he said ‘how many times do I have to forgive her mom? She hurts me all the time.’ His exasperation so palpable, triggering tears. How many times?

Finally – a question Jesus actually did speak to directly! But the answer was a hard one for my eight year old to stomach. ‘Every time?’ He could hardly believe it. But Jesus did make it clear we need to forgive all the time, every time. ‘Why, mom?’ My best sense of things, I said, is that Jesus wanted us to keep our hearts soft and forgiving does that. When we forgive our heart is soft toward others and soft toward God. A soft heart is porous – letting God in, allowing the Spirit and fruits of that Spirit out of us and into the world.

‘Otherwise I’ll have a hard heart like Pharaoh…’ he reasoned.  (I love when he connects dots in the Biblical story!) I reminded him that Pharaoh could not think straight or see straight with such a hard heart, he could not find his way to freedom or let the Hebrews have their freedom.

My son started to bring it together, eyes darting between his sister and me, ‘So I need to forgive to keep my heart soft so I can be like Jesus and not Pharaoh.’ As I was about to comment he continued, ‘…so to do God’s dream for the world I need a soft Jesus-heart.’ Before I could say ‘yes’ he turned and looked at her…

‘I forgive you.’

Then they prayed for each other. He prayed for her hearing, her health, asking Jesus for another healing. I cried – what had happened was just so good. He learned his first hard lesson about forgiveness sitting criss-cross-apple-sauce on my unmade bed.

Slinging backpacks over shoulders, grabbing lunches and buckling seat belts… we were off to school. I told my son I was proud of him – because many grown-ups I know have not learned to forgive. ‘There are a lot of hard hearts out there, mom’ he quipped.

The next day my dear friend and I exchanged words of apology, forgiveness and blessing.  We want to be grown-ups with soft Jesus-hearts.  Today there are a few less hard-hearts in the world.

Want to read more? Get new posts delivered straight to your inbox:

Tags: , , ,

3 thoughts on “conversation with my son: forgiving”

  1. Sherry Naron
     ·  Reply

    Wow, this just made me cry! I love Emma’s sweet little forgiving, easy-going, self…and Justin’s questioning, this is hard, and complex but I’m doing it anyway…fortitude. I just love how he puts things together, so thoughtful. What a great lesson we all need to keep close!

  2. Zuda Gay Pease
     ·  Reply

    Oh, to be like your little guy…absorbing truth and making it real in me. I love his connections….soft = Jesus heart, hard = Pharoah heart.

  3. idelette
     ·  Reply

    So beautiful … the gathering of little ones onto your bed. The wrestling, the understanding, the choice.

    I love how Justin connects the dots and how he desires to keep a soft heart. And I love his prayer for Emma.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


All content on this site is copyrighted by Kelley Nikondeha. Please do not copy work without permission. You are welcome to quote or reference my blog in your article, but please make sure you link back to the original post. Please do not post an article in full without permission, because that is a violation of intellectual property. (My African friends have a different sense of this, but being American, I can tell you it does matter to me!)

All writing on this site represents my own journey, my own wrestling, my own epiphanies. While I work with Communities of Hope, ideas shared here do not necessarily represent this organization.