The Cross. That’s all we have to say when we think of the significance of God’s grace. Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sin, giving us eternal life and the ability to extend compassion and grace to others. Yet extending that grace is difficult. The human brain tends to be a magnet for negativity. We often get “stuck” dwelling on negative thoughts, on retaliation rather than forgiveness.
But grace and forgiveness are necessary for love to exist in a home. That starts with intentionally prioritizing our relationships in each situation. We must look beyond the wrongdoings and remember that we all need grace at times; if we are to receive it, we must also give it.
Related Content: Take our free 7 Traits of Effective Parenting Assessment to see where you rank in the area of grace and forgiveness.
A few years ago, I counseled a father who wrestled with anger issues. As we discussed his struggles, he admitted to harboring bitterness and anger toward his own father. We discussed how this was controlling his marriage and his parenting. He decided to make a list of things he was determined to forgive his father for. He later reported that this simple act of forgiveness gave him a freedom that he’d never experienced. He became more compassionate, connected and patient toward his wife and children.
If grace and forgiveness are the antidote to our negativity, shouldn’t we more freely give it? Yes, it’s hard. Grace means absorbing or canceling a debt that someone has accumulated by hurting you, disappointing you or disrespecting you. It requires us to forgive someone who we believe may not deserve forgiveness, and forgive them for something that we can’t forget. It means letting go of any anger that has taken up residence in our head.
As kids are learning how to handle life, relationships and emotions, mistakes and messes will happen. Sometimes we just don’t have the patience to deal with the messiness, but when we’re able to extend forgiveness to our kids, we create an environment of freedom, connectedness and love. Kids ultimately benefit from grace and forgiveness in these ways:
Learn how to forgive others
When you model grace, kids learn how to free themselves from being hung up on other people’s mistakes. Rather than spinning their wheels on the slippery ice of anger, extending forgiveness allows them to move forward.
Learn how to effectively handle conflict and learn to repair
Kids raised with an understanding of grace and forgiveness are better able to move past conflict. Conflict shows how kids care enough to have an opinion; grace and forgiveness show they care about the relationship.
Experience freedom from shame and perfection
Kids learn to pursue trustworthiness and relationship rather than manipulation or perfection. They learn that no one is perfect, including themselves.
Experience and learn about parental love
Kids learn how and what to do to rebuild trust. They also learn how the economy of love works. If you love someone, you will know grace and forgiveness.
A couple of years ago, my daughter was in a phase of creatively breaking down words. She looked at forgiveness and said, “Dad, forgiveness is really a gift! Look it says, 'for-give.' ” “For” meaning for someone else and “give” in that it is feely given.
Forgiveness truly is a gift for both the sender and the receiver. This trait allows love to thrive in the home.