A while ago something painful happened to our family. It hurt. It was a betrayal. It was out of our control and it was someone else’s fault. It left our whole family reeling. The details of what happened are not important, but what is continuing to happen in us as a result is very important.
As we were navigating the days and months ahead, my husband and I had one primary concern and that was for our children. Each of my four children was affected in a different way. I watched them struggle with anger and betrayal. I knew that how they came through this would forever change them.
My heart broke to think that someone’s poor choices could forever damage the hearts of my children. I struggled with this and cried many tears. I prayed that God would protect the hearts of my children and help them come through this without bitterness.
I asked everyone I trusted for advice. I wanted to know how I could help them navigate this painful situation and come out on the other side whole? How should I guide them?
One day I was sitting on the bed of one of my daughters. She was unloading her anger…I could see she was building walls. I knew these walls would be damaging. In that moment I knew the answer:
The only possible way to protect the hearts of my children was to guide them towards forgiveness.
Not a quick, “I’m sorry.”
This would take some time . . . some work.
This would require an “I accept you, I care about you, and I love you in spite of what you’ve done” kind of forgiveness.
It would require an ability to put aside your desire to make someone else pay.
And to open your arms wide and give them a chance they don’t deserve.
And a realization that none of us are perfect.
We all need forgiveness.
It’s the only possible way to walk through pain and be changed for the better.
Your children will be treated unfairly. They will be lied to. They will be betrayed. There is no question that someone will hurt your children someday in someway.
The question is how will they survive?
Choosing to forgive makes it possible for them to emerge on the other side with a heart that is whole.
If you want to invest in the future emotional health of your children … teach them to forgive.
(This article was originally posted on Parent Cue on April, 2011)