As a mom of two precious yet fiery little girls, I often have the opportunity to apologize. My 10 month old hasn’t reached the “get on mom’s every last nerve” phase yet, so it’s mostly my creative and rambunctious three year old who provides these “I’m sorry” moments for me. And I really mean it when I say these are opportunities, because they are. Every time I say “I’m sorry for being impatient” or “I’m sorry for raising my voice at you,” I’m modeling the Gospel to my little one and I’m preaching the Gospel to myself.
It is tempting to get it in our heads that we have to be a perfect parent, and when we inevitably make a mistake, it’s easy to be overcome with guilt and shame. We forget the power of an apology, repenting to our kids even before they may fully understand. But when we humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness, it shows them they don’t have to be perfect either. There is grace for mistakes and there is strength in Christ to move forward in freedom.
This revelation of imperfect but repentant parenting bore fruit in our lives when my child apologized to me the other day, of her own accord! After getting upset and yelling at me for some offense or another, she said to me in the most gentle tone a couple minutes later, “Mom, I’m sorry for raising my voice at you.” It thrilled my heart to forgive her and to see her copying our pattern of apology.
I believe this is the key to living a life free from guilt and shame: realizing that we are all imperfect, we all mess up, and we need the grace of Jesus to cover our sin and empower us to live as He did. When we really know this, when we really understand that it’s not our perfect performance that saves us, rather it is the truth of the Gospel, we can apologize and receive forgiveness as needed, setting an example of humility and freedom for our kids and enjoying that freedom ourselves. ■