But even my totally amazing kids, occasionally drive me nuts, and do really wrong and dumb things.
The other day I was wrestling with our closest friend’s son, and all of sudden my oldest Hudson wants to “rescue” him. So while I’m not looking on the floor, he gets a running start and kicks me as hard as he can in my side. A perfect kidney shot.
Now I must say that my soccer coaching skills for how to kick have really payed off because that one little kick from a 5 year old hurt, like hold back tears, don’t say anything, take time to recover hurt.
Here’s the thing though – when he knew he hurt me, like really hurt me, he knew he did something wrong, he knew he did something bad. But I turned after regaining some strength and wanted to make sure he knew how wrong it was. I said, “You don’t ever do that again”. And my wife, Krista came and then took Hudson to bed.
I came in a little while later, after I was feeling better and I walked into the room and I had a choice.
I could remind Hudson of how deeply he failed me, and how we don’t kick friends – or anyone for that matter. I could have sat down and said how that wasn’t a wise choice. I could have focused in on the “wrong” and how he “broke the law” of our household. I could reinforce judging his wrong, or I could focus on healing his little heart.
Hudson felt terrible at hurting me. I could reinforce how much he hurt me, and how disappointed I was in him. Or I could teach him about love, grace, forgiveness, and healing a little hurt heart.
Because here is the thing: when we’ve been wronged we really want the other person to either suffer for it, or show deep understanding of how they hurt us. But we always go overboard. We force the issue too long and too much. And the law, guilt, and judgment doesn’t change anyone. It sets a standard, but is not a motivator for transformation. Only grace and forgiveness are.
And so one look at my son showed me this was not the time to press the law and guilt more. This was the time for love and forgiveness. So I gave him a big hug, and he squeezed me so hard and I said I forgave him. He broke down and said how sorry he was, and I assured him that no matter what I’ll always forgive him and love.
So he went to sleep with a healed relationship, reconciled connection with me, rather than a deep feeling of not living up to my expectations and guilt. And I think that small difference makes all the difference.
Relationships are meant to be mended, not guilted into change. Relationships are meant to be reconciled, not broken under law. Relationships are to be healed through forgiveness, not through demanding judgment.
So the next time you have a chance to show judgment or grace and healing, stop for a moment, and think about your choice. Because there is always a choice to show forgiveness, or holding onto judgment. And sometimes that little choice is the difference between someone going to bed with a sore heart, or healed heart.
And of course I went to bed with a sore back, but my heart was happy with Hudson.