I sat in the bathtub today—the water hot, but not as hot as my temper. I lost my cool, and my children were at the receiving end of my tirade.
Yes, I, who stood up in front of students at a Catholic school today to remind them that our mission as families is to love, yelled at my children in a hot-headed moment. The silly part is I can’t even remember for what or how they were acting up, but I could feel my back aching, and the pressure in my eyes from long days and short nights. The bathroom, which had previously been used to bathe my kids, was going to be my only sanctuary once the kids evacuated. So, I yelled loud, hot, piercing words that echoed in the small room and came crashing down on my six-year-old daughter.
When I finally got her out of the tub, I ran new hot water for my own bath. I sank in it, only to find that I had sunk into my own regret, too. My former irritation was met with my daughter’s kindness. She reached out her hand to grab the watch I was taking off of my wrist, and put it away from the water. She closed the shower curtain to give me privacy as she dried off. And I was filled with pangs of guilt for yelling.
I guess I experienced where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more (Rm 5:20) because after a few minutes, when she didn’t leave me to my peaceful bath, I knew I needed to apologize. My “I’m-sorry-I-lost-my-temper-and-yelled-at-you” didn’t come nearly as loud or as bold as my yelling, but it did come more sincerely and heartfelt.
Without missing a beat, she poured warm water over my back and said, “I forgive you” like she had already made up her mind to move past it. Then my sweet girl added, “Mom, I already forgave you. I decided to forgive you even if you didn’t ask me to.”
It was this moment that I thought about again as I kissed her warm, soft, sleeping cheek that night. Repentance is the fresh start I need more often in the day, while remembering the Father’s forgiveness comes quickly, too: I decided to forgive you even if you didn’t ask me to.