One day, I felt convicted to debrief and ask for forgiveness from Ethan. I had a lot of emotional baggage before and during my period of grief.
I admit that I have neglected him. I thought, “maybe I should just make up for my mistakes and do nice things. Maybe it will eventually be enough for him to heal and forget. If I add good memories, I was thinking that it will get resolved on its own."
I did not want to confront my mistakes. I had a lot of excuses for my anger – I was provoked, I was tired, it was important for him to know that he was wrong, I was going through a difficult time, I was grieving and my list of excuses went on.
It was like living with dirty dishes in the sink. We can live and go about our day but it doesn’t change the fact that there are dirty dishes that are left unresolved.
The restlessness didn’t leave my heart. I was too proud to admit that my decisions were not the right one. I had to change and be humble enough to admit that I was wrong. I was the biggest hindrance from moving forward. I had to accept that I messed up. I had to take responsibility for my faults. I had to finally deal with it to get on with my life.
If I wait until I feel like changing, I will never change.
So finally, even if my whole prideful body and mind was wrestling with my soul, I took in the motto of Nike – Just Do It!!
And so I did.
One morning during breakfast, this conversation came about:
Mommy: Ethan, can I talk to you about something important?
Ethan: Yes (while nodding his head)
Mommy: Has mommy ever hurt you?
Ethan: No (while being busy playing with his food)
Mommy: But do you remember the time we were inside the car and the parking card went missing?
Ethan: Yes (shockingly looking at me)
Mommy: Do you remember that Mommy was so angry? So so angry that I was shouting and was so angry while we were looking for the card?
Ethan: Yes (curious as to where this was heading)
Mommy: I want to ask for forgiveness because mommy was wrong. You may have misplaced the parking card but it was wrong for mommy to have reacted so angrily. It was wrong for mommy to shout and I know it hurt you.
I want you to know that God is defending you. That He is convicting mommy that I was wrong. Will you forgive me?
Ethan: Yes (looking straight into my eyes…I knew his wall of anger broke down)
I went up to him, knelt down crying and I asked again “will you forgive mommy?”
Ethan: Yes mommy, I forgive you…
And I asked if I could embrace him and we did.
Mommy: I want you to remember that God will always defend you and that good will always win over evil. That there is nothing we can hide.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
A few minutes after… Ethan said
Ethan: Mom, can I talk to you?
Mommy: Yes you can (curious about what this is headed)
Ethan: Do you remember the parking card?
Ethan: Im sorry for hiding it at the back of the car . will you forgive me?
Mommy: aww, thank you Ethan for telling me this. Yes, I forgive you and I love you!!
Mommy: I want you to know that you can tell me anything. You can be confident to tell me things. I will always listen. And I want to give you permission to stop me if I am wrong. If I am doing something that is not going to make Jesus happy. Ok?
thoughtless words can would as deeply as any sword, but wisely spoke words can heal.
UNSPOKEN HURT FINALLY HEALED
For more than 2 and a half years, we have been struggling and have tried to correct Ethan’s behaviour but nothing seemed to work. We attended parenting seminars, workshops and even brought him to different therapists. Nothing was giving a lasting effect.
Someone even suggested that he might have generalised anxiety disorder, ADHD but a trusted teacher who was his teacher for a year continued to reassure me that Ethan does not have this condition. That he is simply going through a lot and a therapist assured me. We were assuming that maybe it was a mixture of an overwhelming emotion that he didn’t know how to respond to. Maybe it was the months that we were away taking care of his sister that he may have felt abandoned. Maybe it’s the months that I was in deep sorrow and depressed? Maybe it was also incidents when he was labeled by others as a “bad” or “difficult” boy. Maybe the incidents when he told us that we has being pinched but I didn’t do anything to defend him. Maybe a mixture of all caused Ethan to always be angry and be shouting each morning. We had a lot of excuses.
Maybe He felt that no one was there to defend him so he would react so that nobody would hurt him anymore. Maybe there was a whole lot of hurt going on his heart that’s why he was hurting others.
Hurt people, hurt people.
But our 10 minute talk of debriefing and asking for forgiveness was our family’s turning point!
Ethan changed dramatically! His “I am a bad boy”, punches, spits, bites, love for villains, love for knives and anger was replaced with loving heros, loving goodness and laughter. He is now very confident to talk to me about situations when he would get hurt by me or by others. He is confident that I would not simply defend him but to seek and find out the truth. He’s still a work in progress but he is such a different boy now! We have even forgotten what it was like living with a difficult behavior for 2 years!
The whole household changed.
When we stopped fixing his behavior and started shepherding his heart, true healing and change happened.
It healed me too. I have become a different person. Someone who is more mindful to be humble. Our relationship has dramatically changed. He is confident to tell me if someone has hurt him and I now trust his stories to be true and not a lie. I believe he feels secure and safe now.
When I admitted my mistakes, his healing started.
The unspoken hurt was finally healed when I spoke up and asked for forgiveness.
Put your heart right…reach out to God…Then face the world again, firm and courageous. then all your troubles will fade from your memory, like floods that are past and remembered no more.
Is there a relationship you need to restore?
Is there someone whom you have hurt but you may have arguments or excuses as to why you cannot ask for forgiveness?
maybe you don’t want to ask for forgiveness because you think it will give them permission to take advantage, to hurt you or it will give them the idea that “see I am right and you are wrong!” Or we want him/ her to apologize first. That you will change only when he changes because you have felt disrespected or they have deeply hurt you. Maybe you argue that you were provoked in anger.
Or maybe we expect them to understand what we are going through? Or maybe we have forgiven a person a number of times but we never received an apology or a change we expect to receive after? Or maybe we think that they deserve it?
There are a lot of what ifs and a lot of reasons that can be valid that would hold us back.
But unforgiveness in like drinking a poison yourself and waiting for the other person to die.
forgiveness is what we expect from everyone else but we ourselves have practiced very so little. Possibly because there was a whole lot of hurt that came with it. We never confronted it and expected time to resolve the pain.
Confess your sins to one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16
Maybe it is time to stop delaying. Maybe its time to confront your pain and be healed. Do not be afraid to be judged. If you want to stop delaying, here are tips you can apply.
Mathew 5:5-6 blessed are the meek, happy are those who are humble
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test my thoughts. Point out anything you find in me that makes you sad. Psalm 139: 23-24
HOW TO ASK FOR FORGIVENESS
1. Do it with the right time
plan, schedule a time to meet. Maybe over lunch or coffee. Best to do it in public and during the day.
2. Do it with the right attitude
I often like to do the sandwich effect,
Breading – affirm the person
Palaman – ask for forgiveness. use the words “I want to ask for forgiveness for…will you forgive me?”
Breading – affirm by saying thank you for forgiving me or thank you for letting me know that you are not yet ready to forgive me. In time, I pray that you will continue to be healed by the hurt I have caused.
3. Do it without expectation
Focus only on your part, and don't expect anything back from the person you're trying to make amends to. NEVER use the word “because...” or “kasi...”
4. Do it in an appropriate way
Think carefully about what you will say and how you will say it. Sometimes its good to write it down. Instead of using “I’m sorry”, we practice saying “will you forgive me for...” and we practice to use “yes, I forgive you...” Also ask yourself if making amends will do more harm than good. Be sure to consider any possible collateral damage.
5. Make restitution wherever possible
If you've taken something, return it. if you owe somebody money, pay it back. there may be some things you cannot restore, but don't underestimate the power of a sincere apology.
Regular heart check
On regular occasions, sometimes while walking, while playing or while brushing our teeth, I often ask Ethan “how do you feel today? Have I hurt you today? How can I become a better mommy?”
And interestingly, even at the age of 4 (and even during Caitie’s time at the age of 3) they give us answers.
We do not defend ourselves and simply zip up and say “thank you for being honest, I want to commit to love God more so He can help me change”
If you think that you are resolved with everyone around you, it would be good to also do a heart check with them and ask:
How can i improve?
How have i hurt you?
Listen and say thank you even if you have the urge to argue and reason out. May asking for forgiveness become your family habit.
If you obey Him, He will fix your life
He will make new what the locusts has eaten. Joel 2:24-32