The essential, overriding element – forgiveness.
In the beginning, sin entered our world through a couple’s disobedience. God’s forgiveness followed as animals were sacrificed and their skins were given to Adam and Eve to cover their shame. The consequences of their sin remained, and they were forced to leave their beautiful, perfect garden for a harsh life battling the elements and experiencing great sorrow. We read about this in Genesis and we weep. But, we can also rejoice because our loving Heavenly Father did not abandon that first couple. Nor does He abandon us. Centuries later, the faithful cycle of finding God’s forgiveness when we sin is still a part of the human experience. And, it is a very important part of family life today.
If you created your own stone garden as described in our last entry, I hope you used a leak proof container. My next suggestion is that you pour water over the stones until water covers the bottom of the container. Let the water represent forgiveness, an absolutely essential ingredient, a precious gift, and often a difficult one to benefit from.
As a child, I was often sternly told to “say, you’re sorry,” when I did something my caregivers considered wrong. I probably used the same strategy with my own children. The weakness in doing this is a well-known fact that a person may say I’m sorry and not mean it at all. And a forced sorry brings no guarantee that the person will understand that she is forgiven. Unresolved guilt brings shame. Who knows how much of this shame festers in a child’s spirit long after their wrongdoing is forgotten by adults.
Sin, however, remains a very present reality we need to deal with and learning to forgive is an essential part of this. In fact, learning how to accept and grant forgiveness is very like the soothing water that covers those stones in your centerpiece. Forgiveness makes it possible to filter, focus, fortify and finish well as a family. It so often clears away the emotional dust and debris that comes when a group of people live in close proximity in a very hectic, demanding world.
If forgiveness is an overreaching element in family life today, what are some effective ways for parents to first experience this for themselves and then pass what they’ve found on to their children?
I’ll suggest some answers to this question next time. You are, as always, welcome to join the conversation.
But you are a forgiving God,
gracious and compassionate, slow to anger
and abounding in love.