Re-dos: Fostering Repentance and Forgiveness

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22

If you have followed Jesus and studied his life you know he is the prime example of love and grace. When I read Jesus’ interactions with people in the Bible, I see that he forgave people and their hearts were forever changed.

But, he also upheld boundaries for those who were hard-hearted and not willing to receive the truth. Jesus instructed his disciples to “shake the dust off their feet” when not received by a town. Jesus set a boundary.

In my own parenting, I am seeking the balance, the dance, the perfect marriage between forgiveness and boundaries.

One way in which I am doing this is with “re-dos”. This is not a new concept, but it sure is effective.

Here is how I use the “re-do”.

Child walks right through an adult conversation, immediately jumps into what they want to say. I make eye contact with the child and then gesture to the adults around me, drawing the child’s attention to the others. Then I say, “Let’s try that again.” The child then goes around the group, comes back by my side, placing her hand on my arm while she waits her turn.

Or a child snaps at her sister in a loud, rude tone and I say, “Can we try that again?” She then has the chance to use the tone she would have liked to have used the first time around.

In these examples, I am setting the boundary of what behavior I am willing to accept and what behavior needs correcting. And, I am also able to see the child’s heart and grant forgiveness.

Another way I use “re-dos” is for myself! When I am having a mindful moment, I might hear myself say something in a tone I’d rather not use. So, I will say to my child, “Can I have a “re-do”? And, then I proceed to take a deep breath and try it again. This allows the child the chance to forgive me and our relationship can be restored.

These “re-dos” foster learning, repentance, and forgiveness. My impulsive response, lacking self-control, can be reframed in my mind, draw me closer to God for change, and give my child the chance to forgive me. And, my child’s impulsive interrupting can physically be changed by realizing what went wrong and how she can improve it. I, then, see how she intended to behave and I can forgive and move on.

These “re-dos” remind me of the Lord’s new mercies which are new every morning. Every morning I wake up, I have received a “re-do” from the Lord! What a gift! What a gift I can also give to my children.

 Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

forgiveness

 

The Story of Two Hard Hearts

And, he looked around at them with anger, grieved by their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. Mark 3:5

This is the story of two hard hearts. In order for the one heart to soften, the first had to soften. As the one heart remained hard, so did the other.

Heart rock

The two hearts belonged to a mother and daughter duo.

The mother’s heart held expectations. Expectations in which she would perform in a certain prescribed way, and the daughter, in turn, would perform in the expected manner. The mother would lay out her high expectations. She would not give in or flex in any way. She would maintain a rigid schedule. And, the daughter would respond appropriately. Theirs would be a perfect dance. Perfect harmony. The perfect equation. Mom’s actions + daughter’s reactions = Harmony.

The daughter’s heart held needs. Needs which required being met in order to move on to later stages. Needs which held a high significance in her life and did not let up. The daughter carried these needs with her each and every day. Although she was not able to express her needs, they continued to haunt her as they went unmet.

Little by little, the mom in this story became disenchanted when her actions did not result in control or change in the daughter’s behavior. Thus a hard heart took root in the mother.

Also, little by little, the daughter found the mom unresponsive to her needs. And her inability to keep up with the demands left her sad. Thus a hard heart took root in the daughter.

Two hard hearts.

In Mark chapter 3, Jesus looked around at the Pharisees and was grieved by their hard hearts.  At that same time, the man in need of healing received instruction from Jesus to stretch out his hand. Jesus restored him! Hallelujah!

With their hard hearts, the Pharisees were unable to see what Jesus was up to. But the man with the withered hand followed a different pattern. He came to Jesus in the synagogue with his need. Then he listened to Jesus’ instruction and he obeyed. This resulted in restoration and his need being met. 

Back to the story of the two hard hearts. As the mom experienced more and more failure and heartbreak, she found herself at the end of her own resources. Finally, humbling herself, she cried out to God, “What must I do to teach this child? How will I ever get through to her?”

God in His great mercy began to shed His light on the whole situation. He began to show, the now humble mother, just what her daughter needed. The mother’s heart broke at how she had missed the mark. Her desperation for the Lord’s intervention and wisdom increased.

She listened to the Lord and she obeyed.

And little by little the relationship between the mother and daughter was restored.

Little by little, the once hard, wounded, selfish hearts were restored to soft, healed, connected hearts.

me and abby

Letter to my Child’s Sunday School Teacher

Dear Sunday School Teacher,

You know my child, the one who sits when you ask her to stand.
The one who laughs whenever you say the word, “bottom”.
The one who is loud when instructed to be quiet.
The one who never remembers the Bible verse.
The one who turns her head every time someone moves a muscle.
The one who becomes frustrated when asked to read aloud or write in a small space.
The one who still brings a stuffed animal with her for comfort.
The one who says, “I don’t know,” when asked what she learned that day.

You know my child, the one who knows your heart.
The one who prays for you when you are sick.
The one who knows your cat’s name.
The one who remembers your kindness towards her.
The one who tries your patience.
The one who can tell what kind of day you are having.
The one who melts with your praise.

Oh, dearest Sunday school teacher. Your job may feel fruitless when my daughter never completes your projects. Your job may seem futile when she doesn’t mememorize the Bible verse. You may feel as though your time is wasted when she isn’t on the right page during the Bible reading time.

But, oh, dear Sunday school teacher, it’s your heart she seeks. Will you accept her as she is? Will you love her as Christ loves you? Will you show compassion so the kids in class will know the compassion God has for them?

Dearest Sunday school teacher, my daughter may never remember the lesson from the day, but she will always remember your love.

Sincerely,

A Mother Who Loves Fiercely
Continue reading “Letter to my Child’s Sunday School Teacher”