“Real belief in it [forgiveness] is the sort of thing that very easily slips away if we don’t keep polishing it up.” C.S. Lewis
If you asked me to recount the highlight reel of my experiences as a mother, I am apt to recount the tender, golden moments. I may be tempted to show you only the smiling photos–you know, the bright, shiny ones from the beach where we are all giving each other high-fives. In perfect paradox, my children have also been the very souls to break my heart in unexpected places, and most often when I least expect.
I have tasted of the unfathomable love that God has poured into my heart for each of my children. Yet, in my human nature, my first response to wrongdoing or disappointment can be the desire for thorough restitution followed by the parental right to “teach my kid a lesson.” Although I am called to train my children in right conduct, if I do this training without the Christ-like virtues special to this vocation, love and forgiveness, then the wounds inherent to family life painfully spiral. Healing and the growth of virtue cannot come but from a place of genuine reconciliation.
We proclaim it in the creed each Mass, and as a mother, I have been called to truly believe in forgiveness as a way of life both for my children and for myself. I must practice tenderness and gentleness of heart as a first response. If I make the effort to lean into our Abba Father to soften my stony heart, then I can be used of him to absorb the effects of the injury. Through Christ, I can be his instrument to absorb the trauma of the original offense and start the life-giving flow of forgiveness that has its very origination in God. In the end, God’s forgiving heart is the source and can heal the most broken mama and child. This is the power that restores relationships to freedom, wholeness, and the renewed depth of connection within the family that each of us longs for. It is the extraordinary generosity of Christ living in and through each of us that has the power to bring unity and glory to his name!