Forgiveness Is Light

What you believe about forgiveness will, ultimately, intimately, powerfully, impact how you see God. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If I believe God denies my sin, I won’t believe I need forgiveness.

 If I believe the sin in my life is allowed to be shoved deep into a hidden drawer and forgotten, I will fail to learn the lessons of my humanity in relation to God’s perfection.  I will deny God His heart’s desire to redeem the pain in those moments and offer incredible beauty from the ashes of my foolishness.

If I believe the work of reconciliation is less than a small-scale representation of God’s grace worked out in the details of our own lives, I will despise the work He does on a grander scale.

If I believe all these lies, eventually, I will conclude I don’t need to do anymore in my spiritual walk than to tell God I’m sorry, over and over, until the rote-ness of the words mean so little I don’t even bother to say them.

That’s why this is important.

Forgiveness is the roadmap to God.  It is His hand, extended in love and reaching down to us in our failure and broken nature, which He offers to lift us up.

Our moment to touch the Divine is found in repentance, walking away from our rights to hold the filth of both owned and unacknowledged sin and selfishness.  Like children crying out for Papa, all we need to do is reach UP to His waiting arms.

What we believe about forgiveness impacts our families, our friendships, even the way we speak to ourselves.  

It’s easy to throw stones at people who don’t act in the way you believe carries meaning.  Maybe you don’t like what they have to say.

“You don’t speak my love language” becomes a weapon thrown at each other to explain away the bitterness that fuels the feeling our needs aren’t being met.   This bitterness largely comes from being held to a standard where humility is necessary.  In those moments when it can become painfully obvious this does not come naturally to any of us we have the choice to listen or to harden our hearts.

If someone loves us enough to hold us accountable for our actions, the first reaction is to be uncomfortable.  Accountability touches the places we hide our weaknesses and shortcomings behind a childish repetition of excuses and justifications.

We want something or someone else to blame for the words we speak, the accusations we make, the pain we cause. We even resort to hiding behind a pseudo-apology that, somehow, puts the blame on someone else for putting us in the place to behave badly.  We desperately try to shift the weight to someone’s shoulders and that Someone is most definitely Not Me.

Walking according to a godly standard of behavior, and following the example of the Holy Spirit who works Perfectly in the area of redemption, I would urge you to use the following elements to your life and your relationships so you can find the Goodness of God in the middle of your painful circumstances.

Do:

  1. Assume you are capable of hurting others.  Understand no one involved will ever be faultless in the situation bringing division between two formerly close friends.
  2. Examine yourself honestly and be specific about how you failed either in the events leading up to the nuclear bomb or in the events after the explosion.
  3. Quickly forgive those who hurt you, knowing full well how much God has forgiven you.
  4. Be willing to reconcile but don’t deny your counterpart their opportunity to repent
  5. Refuse to make excuses for your sin. Repentance, ownership, and humility are critical to bringing peace.
  6. Daily offer to your Heavenly Father the hurt and confusion, the hunger for vindication and justice, and the temptation to withdraw your forgiveness as the one who wronged you continues, unrepentant, to defend their behavior.

Don’t:

  1. Believe that lie that forgiveness means you accept or condone someone’s poor behavior or choices
  2. Accept that you are heartless or lack compassion because you have chosen to hold your attacker to a standard of Godliness and accountability
  3. Feed the lie that the only one responsible for the current situation is the one who has chosen to withdraw from the unrepentant party.
  4. Quit praying for the person who hurt you.

And above all, live as children of the light in every kind of goodness, rightness, and truth.

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Forgiveness Doesn’t Equal Reconciliation

Awkward hugs are, well, awkward.  Yet, not since hugging was invented can there be displays of affection more horrific than when two people, believing that one phrase can erase both pain and consequence,  find themselves caught in the eternity of seconds as they embrace.  They are living a lie.

What lie?

This one.  If  you “really forgive someone” you’ll instantly be right back at the corner of friendly and awesome.  Our guilty consciences play terrible games with broken hearts. What if we aren’t feeling it but believe the myth of an instant and automatic outflow of warmth, joy, and displayed friendliness because we verbalized three little words.

Admitting you said or thought “I forgive you” becomes the adult version of the Get Along Shirt where the person locked into it with you is the very one who knows the precise location of every bruise.

Forgiveness isn’t a simple mind over matter issue for anyone. The greater the personal trespass on my soul, the more shattered and slivered I become, until, maintaining a focus on intentional forgiveness requires so much effort I often lack the ability to do more than remain very still and make feeble attempts, by sheer determination, to function as normally as possible.

Not all cracks and rifts are equal. Some heal quickly, with minimal scarring, while others will change everything about us.

Simple apologies, a word of forgiveness, alone or even together, will never offer enough substance to rebuild. To be candid, there are no clean breaks between people.  This type of damage is like two pieces of paper glued together then ripped violently apart.  Neither remains whole.  No one can honestly deny the shredding happened. Nobody looks good later.

Those prone to anger get angry and those prone to silence get stony-faced.  Those who weep do so and those who didn’t see it coming sit in stunned quiet for a very long time.yellow hydrant1

There is an abandoned golf course near where I live.  We walk on spongy ground where green plastic mesh shows through what remains of a fairway.  Left to the wild animals and elements, the emerald greens and pristine whites one would expect from the premier course it was intended to become are faded into winter’s dull grays and browns.   Ponds lie half-empty and algae filled while bridges have deteriorated into the skeleton of a place once filled with promise and hope.

An entire neighborhood sub-culture once planned around the idea of resort living in your own home has turned into a graveyard to ambition.

Agreements failed, water rights arguments waxed long and eloquent, until all that remains is only vaguely seen in the atrophied debris of a dream. Investments were lost.  Fortunes shattered.

Now only emptiness and graffiti covered outbuildings with broken windows remain.

Sometimes, friendships are like that.

We have a plan and declare, confidently, that this time we will be beautiful, magnificent.

You are my dream come true!

You complete me!!

Excitedly, we share life and live closely together until there is little more than distance that separates us.

Until… The sharp words, the brokenness, and the thorny places all contrive to drive us apart.  Blindly retreating to our separate corners, shaking off our initial surprise, the silence prompts us to start examining what remains of our dream.

Yet, even when apologies are made there is more we need.   Even if there is no apology and yet, stalwartly, we have walked through the motions of forgiveness in our hearts and minds, something is missing.

ruined course 1

Reconciliation.

This is different from forgiveness in that it requires an apology, the humbled acknowledgement of hurtful behavior and choices, from the offender and the offended must consent to let go of the very, righteous and justifiable right to remain angry.

We have to be willing to become compatible again. Taking the shambles of our friendship, our marriage, our parent/child relationship, and then commit to work shoulder-to-shoulder doing whatever is necessary to rebuild.

The choice to take part in reconciliation happens over and over.

It begins with being willing to recognize, honestly, when someone was wronged. Yet, beyond just seeing, it requires the offender to refuse to hold any personal right to defend their actions.  Even more dangerously, reconciliation forbids the wounded to indulge any vindictive desire to punish their attacker.

If I hurt you, even if I lacked intention, I was wrong.   If you hurt me, even if you fully intended to do so, it is not up to me to ensure you to feel the “full weight” of your actions.

We serve a Judge who sees all and metes out the right consequences in His own time.

I can’t tell you what reconciliation looks like for you and your offender.  There are too many variables.

But without the beauty of reconciliation and the hours, weeks, years even of work it will take from both of you to diligently pursue godliness, you will never, ever see the beauty of a friendship restored, stronger than before, shining with Grace and the worthwhile brilliance of redemption.

Forgiveness will not always lead to reconciliation.  Sometimes the friendship is over and best laid to rest. Yet, it is rarely NOT worth the brutally hard work to rebuild and see God restore the hearts of two people who had previously been at odds.

Reconciliation will always lean heavily on forgiveness. Just as we need oxygen to exist, forgiveness is the fuel driving us to reconcile and find grace, compassion, and kindness within the rubble.

But to say one hasn’t forgiven because there has been no reconciliation is a nasty lie intent on keeping you from seeing the freedom and joy God has for you when you forgive.

When there is no repentance from the one who broke your heart, you can only offer forgiveness. Reconciliation takes two.

reconciliation 

See the rest of the series:

The Lies We Tell Ourselves About Forgiveness

Denial Is Not Forgiveness

Forgiveness Remembers

reconciled

Forgiveness Remembers

Meeting a friend for coffee on one sunny afternoon, I was happily sitting at a table for two surrounded by people busy with their laptops, journals, and losing myself in thought while  conversations buzzed around me in a pleasant hum. I looked toward the front to see her at the counter ordering something decadent as I sipped carefully at a black Grande coffee.  Venti cup, add hot water, no room for cream.

In the middle of this quiet, peaceful moment, a pair of glass and steel double doors opened with a whoosh and in walked That Man.

Instantly, my blood boiled, my heart raced, and my fingers tightened dangerously around a paper cup of very hot coffee.   It took all I had not to stand up and make a scene.

I settled for the deadpan, “I’ve never met you before, you aren’t even interesting, and you mean less than a hairball to me” look.  It somehow seemed appropriate and really helped me not to feel powerless when forcefully reminded of the pain and injustice he represented to me, to my family, and to so many others in this community.

Surely that is what bitterness looks like, right?  How could someone who had forgiven remember a litany of situations?

The dull roar of a thousand sermons rings out that, “Love “… keeps no record of wrongs.” I Cor 13:5 (CJB)

Except, Paul was talking about courtrooms and lawsuits between believers. That, liebchen, that is a whole other kettle of fish.

If it were reasonable, or even POSSIBLE to expect someone to forget when they have been wounded, then there would be no need for a Wonderful Counselor, David would have had no reason to write Psalm 41, and Jesus wouldn’t have whipped money changers.

When all has been forgiven and laid to rest in the past/future, it should never, ever, EVAR be spoken of again.

But, that isn’t how we are made.

When life hurts we store everything about it somewhere deep inside.  Sometimes more clearly than delirious happiness.  Even when we lose the sharpness of a memorized statement, bruised feelings, aching hearts, and bitter tears will echo back through our mind’s eye.

life hurts2

Oh, yes, we remember.

Yet, there is a lie, this one, and it is a bitterly ugly thing:

“Forgiveness means I forget everything you did to hurt me”and this monstrosity keeps us held hostage to unexamined and unresolved, well, everything

And that, oh, THAT is an ugly thing.

Mindlessly standing over a steaming sink of dishes, hands covered in bubbles, heart shredded, I choked out a single statement over and over,

“Brian, they broke me.  How could they break me?”

I will never forget that moment, his pale face, and how powerless and trampled I felt.  It was as though I had been gutted.

Somehow, in spite of all the anguish, many of the faces involved in that moment of excruciating pain have become dear to me again.   We don’t think about that situation or those terrible months very often anymore. We have rebuilt.

There was forgiveness offered and received within weeks of that initial situation.  There has been forgiveness walked out for over 7 years.

But forgetting?  Could we turn hours into emptiness?  Could we force this situation to be simply disappeared from our collective consciousness?  Not possible.

Forgetting pain is not only impossible, I believe it is wrong.

To dismiss the pain endured, survived, or even caused, can carry the weight of losing a priceless opportunity to develop empathy.  Our emotional reservoir for compassion is quickly depleted without a focused, intentional, influx of healthy empathy.

There’s another reason forgetting is wrong.

By not only suppressing the harshness of our experience but abandoning it’s lessons, we lose the wisdom and discernment that can be ours through retrospect. God, who is often invisible to us in the present, becomes very tangible, very real, very present when we see Him from the windows of our future selves.

Practicing forgetfulness makes us lose sight of moments with a distinct potential to become cornerstones, foundations, and hedges of protection.

Building

Fundamentally?  If we are going to be naked here?

We don’t really forget.  We just refuse to look at this ugly thing. By denying it, and pressing it down, hiding it behind a stoic front, and waiting for it to abscess we are setting a timer for our own destruction.  Eventually, it will spill putrid bitterness and impotent rage onto everyone in our path and we will become the very thing we have dedicated ourselves to not becoming.

How can we be different?

Grace demands a higher price than the emptiness of avoidance when it has covered a broken spirit.  Grace demands that we remember and yet, still choose to love.

See, because I remember and yet have forgiven,when That Man crosses my path and I recoil from his unrepentant actions?  I still pray for God’s blessing, kindness, and love to be abundant in his life.

Tomorrow’s Lie:

Forgiveness Means Instant Reconciliation 

See the rest of the series:

The Lies We Tell Ourselves About Forgiveness

Forgiveness Means I Should Pretend Nothing Bad Happened

Forgiveness Doesn’t Equal Reconciliation 

forgiveness remembers

Denial is Not Forgiveness

7 Don’t delude yourselves: no one makes a fool of God! A person reaps what he sows. 8 Those who keep sowing in the field of their old nature, in order to meet its demands, will eventually reap ruin; but those who keep sowing in the field of the Spirit will reap from the Spirit everlasting life.” Galatians 6:7-8 CJB

“If you really forgave me,” she said, “You’d just go on like nothing happened.  If you don’t, you are judgmental and don’t have any compassion. What a bitter person you are!”

“If you were a real Christian you would leave it in the past.” he said, scowling behind a face full of anger and frustration.

The lie being shouted into the tender, hurting places is this:

Forgiveness means I pretend nothing bad has happened.

All too often this gross and terrifying perversion of truth becomes the mantra by which women keep getting beat up, men return, broken and crushed, to unfaithful wives, children abused in silence, and we all keep working diligently to please those who are unwilling to acknowledge that any of their own behavior was destructive.

We exchange the kindness and grace of forgiveness for a contract to endure further abuse in silence and it’s a contract signed in blood, tears, and heartache.

So, here’s the truth of it.

When Joseph’s brothers beg him for forgiveness, in Genesis 50:17, they are asking him to take a stand “above it” and to “lift off” the weight of the trespass.

When used in the New Testament, forgiveness speaks of letting go of a “mutual claim” or  “sending away” the offending issue/person.

That my friends, is how we approach our Lord, is it not?  And we are to be like Him!!

“…one who has been forgiven only a little loves only a little.” Luke 7:47b CJB

In the life of a Christian forgiveness is a requirement to live honestly.

I only need to close my eyes for a few seconds before a litany of my own desperate need for grace, the many times of broken promises to love Him and my neighbor, the moments (and years) of weakness, un-gratefulness, unkindness rolls across my mind’s eye…

When I think of His great love and compassion, a Divine and unending benevolence when I deserve it so little, then offering that kindness to another for their actions becomes a much more simple concept.

I know I have been forgiven much.  I will love much.  I choose to do so.  I must.

Yet, this can never mean I am going to walk, blindly, head-on into a sucker punch when I know that is how you roll.

Every blow after the first becomes a choice to accept abuse.

Forgiveness is not denial

Having gained something from our shared experience, which you might call criticism, judgmental, or bitterness, our relationship is irrevocably changed.

Through wisdom and hard-won discernment I can forgive you wholeheartedly and still walk cautiously around you.  But, I didn’t arbitrarily change the situation, you did.  We did.  Whether by something we did or didn’t do, we’ve changed course.

Forgiveness has nothing to do with the offender.  It has everything to do with me recognizing the inflicted pain of your actions and choosing to let go, lifting the burden and putting into hands far greater than mine.

I do this so bitterness won’t find fertile soil and the poison doesn’t spread to the rest of my soul.

Honestly, forgiveness is the easy part.

Repentance and reconciliation are much harder, although they will seem effortless when compared to the process and beauty of restored relationship.

But, repentance looks backward just long enough to see the deviation and recognize the harm done before determining to acknowledge, apologize, and make a radical 180 degree change.

And unless we look back at the carnage, we can’t reconcile.

Without reconciliation, there will be no restoration.

Tomorrow:

“Forgiveness means I forget everything you did to hurt me”

Series:  The Lies We Tell Ourselves About Forgiveness”

Denial is Not Forgiveness

Forgiveness Remembers

Forgiveness Doesn’t Equal Reconciliation

The Lies We Tell Ourselves About Forgiveness

the lies

We are standing on the sharply tilted deck of the Titanic while musicians play through frozen fingers and pluck away at icy strings in ankle-deep water.

No hope.  Very few survivors. All hands went down with the ship.

Or something like that.

Although, full disclosure, we know the band probably didn’t play and engineers had been ordered out of the boiler room and might have survived.

You get my drift….

The relationship is finally over, twitching and flinching, the avoided calls or unanswered texts have ceased only to be replaced by thundering silence. An underlying issue left unseen in the distance, or ignored in a fit of Pollyanna denial, has destroyed a once promising companionship.

You are sitting on your couch, or at Starbucks, or walking down a lonely dirt path, and pondering, “How did we get here?”

If you are like me, you will rate and analyze every action or reaction that lead up to the unfortunate series of events and ask this question a thousand times:  “What could I have done differently?”

Or, more honestly,

“Whose fault is this, anyway?”

Sound familiar?

But, I wonder, what if things end with us NOT blaming ourselves? Maybe it pans like this?

We experience a dawning revelation about the importance of this flesh and blood person across the table.  They are just a person we have put up on a pedestal and their opinion matters too much.  We have allowed ourselves to fall into unhealthy patterns of co-dependence, nurtured the ugliness of a messiah-complex, or, because it’s easier to keep a destructive relationship than to build a healthy one, have stayed within pain without purpose through just plain laziness. None of these are uncommon struggles, friend.  Welcome to humanity, y’all.

Perhaps the constant chaos of someone addicted to drama, constantly screaming issues in your face, is no more than a carefully constructed manipulation meant to keep you too busy to form a reasonable response and leaves you in a survival mode that insures you will never leave.  Isolated within the prison of an emotionally dominating relationship, required to give all social, emotional, and relational needs for this other person we are stretched too thin, strung to high.

When you finally wake up to the ugly truth that anyone who refuses to recognize your carefully worded and  clearly communicated limits or boundaries, who refuses to respect you is NOT your friend. Then the conversations get tense.

At this point? I shut down and shut folks out.

But maybe, here at the edge of the cliff, desperately still holding out a hand, hoping for a glimmer of compassion from the people you had invested so much into, you try to prove they are able to show some empathy or kindness for anyone but themselves.  When it becomes clear they aren’t capable of  what you hope for?  Any pipe dream you may have held onto of  preserving something of all the time, effort, love, and energy you have invested will simply dissipate.

To make matters worse?

What  if they blame you for the self-inflicted pain, frustration, and unresolved angst.  There we are wallowing around like we are in some weird game of blind man’s bluff.

Maybe, finally, wrestling with God and trying to find joy again, you catch a glimpse of the faint fingerprints of Salvation carefully pressed into your own life. It reminds you of a sweet, kind, and gracious God. Inexplicably, dreams may begin to stir within you and the unavoidable truth, even if it is a cliche, “let go and let God”, gives you strength to walk away.

Behind you, angry screams get louder and louder…

Hey, navigating life with people in it is a full-time sport for some.  For others it’s the difference between survival and mere existence.

In my book, and maybe I am too linear, I would say there is no “unforgivable sin” in friendship, except one, the unrepentant defense of destructive behavior. 

With or without words.

We all screw up,  saying and doing stupid things.  For whatever reason, there have been times that insulting, offending, or hurting someone we care about has seemed justifiable.

Yet, instead of apologizing, acknowledging idiot choices, what if I deny it happened, pretend it’s all in your head, or throw blame at you for what I chose to do? What if there is always an excuse or someone else to blame for every bad decision or failure?

Just like that, friendship can dissolve like a spider web in a grease fire.

“Surely, you must ‘forgive and forget.’”, whispers the guilty voice inside.   Every relationship seminar or book we’ve read reverberates with “Love covers a multitude of sins.”

We know how second-guessing chips away at our confidence and solid determination can waver when incessant criticism of the unrepentant for the newness of our stance and personal conviction eats like acid into any hope for reconciliation, right?

I want to jump in the ring with this issue and fight it. Perhaps not Greco-Roman style, but in a less naked, more intellectually impressive type of wrestling.

Truth and freedom are worth fighting for and those ugly, quickly built, easily broken lies can’t handle the pressure.

Stay tuned tomorrow when I start three-part series titled:

“The Lies We Tell Ourselves About Forgiveness”

I don’t know everything about being a good person, friend, wife, parent, or follower of Christ.  But what I am learning is that sometimes…

Big Sigh…

Sometimes, leaving a relationship looks more like Jesus than staying ever could.

Read the whole series here:

Denial is Not Forgiveness

Forgiveness Remembers

Forgiveness Doesn’t Equal Reconciliation 

Reconciling Parents – Restoring Children

grounds.jpgAfter over a month on the road, we had just moved into our house.   The weight of transition, sleeping in cheap motels, and on the couches of good friends made us all emotionally thin and ragged around the edges.

The cat tired of sleeping in the car and everyone tired of living out of suitcases.

This was not the life I’d imagined  for us.  Especially for my two boys, then aged 2 and 4.

So, on the first day into our very own four walls with no adjoining spaces and no one else in the house with us, we all breathed a a little easier.   Crawling around in footsie pajamas and sticky faces, the boys excitedly explored their new space while I happily applied myself to unpacking boxes in the bedroom. When, slowly, I became aware that a suspicious silence had fallen over the house.

If you’ve ever had toddlers, you understand “suspicious” silences.

Calling their names, I walked into the kitchen to find the 4-year-old covered, head to toe, in coffee grounds.

Espresso grind. French Roast. Coffee grounds. Were. Everywhere.

On the floor, in his teeth, in his fine, blonde hair…  Everywhere.

Folks, I still cringe, 12 years later, when I think of how I lost my ever-loving mind.

Grabbing him off the chair he was standing on so he could reach the pretty coffee maker, I slung him up on my hip, marched into the bathroom and threw him in the shower. I got louder and louder while demanding answers and responses he wasn’t remotely capable of giving.

“Why would you do this?  Don’t you know we don’t have a washing machine yet? I’m going to have to hand wash all this in the bathtub!!!  What in the world!?  That was absolutely ridiculous!!!”

I went on and on and on…  It was ugly.

He cried, he said sorry a hundred times, he cringed away from the swirling tornado of Mom-rage.

Blinded by my ugliness, I didn’t see him. I saw only myself and this burning need to vent and “correct” him.

The day progressed and, sharing the story, I laughed about how silly he looked with coffee grounds in his teeth when my husband came home.

Life moved on and  I rarely thought about that one moment. In fact, I thought he had forgotten it.

Kids don’t remember this stuff, right? I hoped that was true.

Fast forward about six years…

“Mom, remember that time you made me take a shower when I ate the coffee grounds?  That was really hard on me.”

I know I died, more than a little, with each syllable of that sentence.

Confession:   I haven’t always been kind.  I too, have been the Mean Mom. There have been seasons when I yelled a lot and sighed, when I felt like a martyr because “couldn’t the world see I was trying?” and it’s just too hard becoming the “perfect mom”.

I have to keep trying to grow beyond what is natural and normal for me. I stretch to attempt to become the kind of parent I envision myself becoming.  You see, this whole family relationship isn’t about perfection. It’s about starting off as a nervous parent who is just now making the acquaintance of a tiny, wrinkle-faced, prune baby who only knows to gurgle and scream, load diapers, and smell good in rotating intervals.  We can’t speak one another’s languages and find ourselves often frustrated, afraid, and resentful of the toll it takes on us.

No one can adequately prepare you for the absolutely foreign nature of loving another person who is completely incapable of meeting adult needs for love and communication.

How do I, how do you, the parent, reconcile with the broken child across the table?

I started with listening to his words, once he was capable of sharing them.

More importantly? I stopped talking.

When it was again my turn, I let him see, not just my frustration with the situation, but how I had berated myself. This wasn’t a time to offer excuses, blame it on the day, the transition, or the exhaustion. I owned my weaknesses and self-indulgences and let him look at me. With a little fear and trembling.

I thought of this sharing, not simply as a single moment of humiliation, but an opportunity to show off the feet of clay he had known about for so long.

I apologized again and we cried a little.

Honestly, I wanted to crawl under the couch and never come out.

I loved that little blond boy with giant brown eyes, smiling face, and an insatiable curiosity. In spite of that love,  I was terrible to him.

How could I be That Mom?  When did I give myself permission to be That Mom?

As I’m writing this, I still feel a constriction in my chest thinking of his sweet face speckled with black while helpless tears stood on his cheeks.

The first step, listening, was followed quickly with a careful, and lengthy, apology.  Not just a quick un-apologetic, “Sorry, you got your feelings hurt.”  Not just the passive acknowledgement of his discomfort and a reluctant mumble with just enough emotion and momentum to get us past the awkwardness of the moment.

I held his hands and, shamefacedly, laid out all the things I did, and then I asked him to forgive me for hurting him. I didn’t make promises to never do it again, although I determined in my heart, “I will be different.”

I prayed and we hugged. A kind and forgiving person, he smiled at me, and forgave me.

Oh, the sweet forgiveness of children.

He moved on, but I still remember being the Mean Mom.   For the past few years, I have worked to reconcile with myself. Not for this situation only.  There are plenty of Mom-Fail moments in my life.   Now, I must learn to take the lesson and leave the failures behind so I am able to work on letting go of the selfish impulses that led me there.

The impulses want to chain me to the identity, Angry Mom, while whispering there is no future beyond reliving my same mistakes over and over.

How did I attempt to restore my child’s love?

Humility.  Transparency.   Authentic struggles.  Asking for help.

It’s ok to say:

“I’m having a terrible day.  This (insert behavior/choice/action here) is finding all my buttons.  Can we take a  time out?”

“I’m sorry I just lost my temper.  It was lame.  You matter more than (insert thing broken/plan changed/demanding schedule).”

We reconcile, find common ground, value each other.   We restore. We rebuild.  We examine foundations and look for the cracks in our own feet of clay.

Because, if you scratch the surface?

I can totally be Mean Mom.

Can I love them more?