This is the fifth Monday of the month and, though I usually post a Hot Buttons post on Mondays, I’m going to use today to crack open an issue we all face at some time or another.
Mom. Dad. My request is that you’ll prepare your hearts and purpose your minds to face the mistakes your teens will make with love, acceptance, and understanding. No matter how much work you put into working through the Hot Buttons I give you, or how many hours of talking, praying, and guiding you do, your teen will mess up at some point. Expect it. Accept it.
Approach those mistakes as teaching opportunities and pray that God uses them according to His will. Don’t ask for them or fear them, but embrace them for the special kind of learning that only comes by walking through the fire.
Above all, guard your hearts against judgment and unforgiveness.
My father and I are estranged. We haven’t spoken in six years. I’m not going to get into the details of he said, she said. That part just isn’t important. However, I will talk about forgiveness.
In a family, you must be willing to apologize for your mistakes. But, you also must be willing to forgive even if the apology doesn’t come your way.
In my case, I’ve extended both my apology and my forgiveness to my father. More than once. There’s nothing more I can do. I can’t change a person’s heart–only God can. I can’t change a person’s mind–that, too, is up to God. I can’t change actions, beliefs, assumptions or expectations. I can only be obedient.
Unforgiveness is unloving and it hurts. But it defines the person who harbors it, not the person who seeks it. To put that another way, if you have apologized for your wrongdoing, you are free of your guilt. If the other person chooses not to forgive you, that’s not your fault. The best thing to do, in that case, is to protect yourself from feelings of resentment and bitterness by praying for the other person and laying the situation in God’s hands.
When it comes to raising teens there will be plenty of things to forgive. Prepare your forgiving heart now so it comes naturally when the need arises.
How have you dealt with an issue like this? Any words of advice to readers still steeped in unforgiveness in some way?