I like to be right. I like to win arguments and even when I know I'm losing I like to continue arguing hoping that the person in the argument with me, usually Dave, will get exhausted and just forfeit. When I am wrong or Dave is persistent in proving my "wrongness" I really really don't like saying that I was wrong - but, alas, I do.
As a matter of fact, I have had many opportunities to say "I was wrong" in our marriage and though I still don't like saying I'm wrong, it has come a bit easier to say it.
Which brings me to this weekend. At church our pastor made a point regarding hypocrisy. He said there is huge difference between failing and being a hypocrite. A hypocrite is a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings but to fail is to make a mistake and then, shocker, apologizing for it. He made a good point when he said, "If you apologize for your sin, tell the person you are sorry, they tend to be shocked. They think it is weird that someone is actually apologizing" He's right. When we decide to not be so thick headed and prideful and just admit we made a mistake, people tend to respond with more grace and forgiveness.
As I pondered his sermon over the weekend, I began thinking how this relates to being a mom. I tell my kids to speak with kindness - do I always speak with kindness? I tell my kids to share - do I always share? I tell my kids to not be selfish - am I always unselfish? I tell them to put their shoes in the shoe box - do I always put my shoes away? Now the last one isn't a sin I don't think or at least I hope not, but that's to prove my point. Our kids are watching us - my kids are watching me!
For example, last week after Easter the candy battle was raging and finally after having too much of it I yelled, "No more crap! You guys have had too much crap!" Then I proceeded to toss it. The next day as we were driving to a bible study Luke told me he was hungry. I asked him what he wanted to eat and he responded, "Hmmm....well, I haven't had craps in a while. I want some craps." Nice. That's a brand new word in his vocabulary and I couldn't discipline him for saying it because he learned it from me. Needless to say, I haven't said that fake cuss word in a week now because I was reminded that little ears are listening.
But on a more serious note, Emma has become quite the little yeller. And although I am doing MUCH better at yelling I still slip up. Emma has learned how to yell from me, and since I have been making a conscious effort to stop she has been getting disciplined quite frequently for her yelling. Then she goes and makes me so frustrated I can barely stand it and I yell. Her beautiful brown eyes look at me with hurt because my words were sharp and kindness was not present, and I realize I messed up. Do I apologize to her? Do I stand strong and convince myself that she deserved my sharp correction? Or do I humble myself and apologize to her for yelling, ask her for forgiveness and show her that mommy is not perfect nor pretends to be? I usually try to apologize, but I realized after hearing this message from our pastor that repentance is necessary.
I don't want my kids to look at me, the way I live, the way I act and compare it to what I'm teaching them and the standard at which I hold them and see two totally different pictures. I want them to learn from my actions and have it reinforced by my words.
I used to know someone who shouted from the rooftops how holy and perfect they were, but in their actions and day to day life I could see contradictions left and right. Apology wasn't a word present in their vocabulary and you dare not question what they preached. They were a hypocrite. People who came across their paths were hurt and confused because of the blatant contradictions. Some are still healing from the hypocrisy that was so prevalent with this person.
I know someone else who has lived a transparent life and is not unwilling to admit their mistakes and ask for forgiveness when one has been made. They don't claim to be perfect, but they claim to know the One who is. That person does not have a bunch of hurt people wherever they go - they have made a profound impact on hundreds maybe thousands of lives.
I want to be the latter and not the former. I want my kids to know that Mommy isn't perfect but she knows who is and she is constantly striving to be more and more like Him. And I know all to well, that if I don't humble myself and repent when I make mistakes like the one I described with Emma, my children won't care to hear what I have to say. They won't hold much or any stock in what I want to teach them.
I encourage you, next time you make a mistake in your parenting, go to your kids and apologize. Don't make excuses, don't say "I'm sorry, but you shouldn't have..." Just apologize and ask them to forgive you. It's amazing how children are so receptive to that. It's amazing what an apology can do to heal relationships. If you have hurt your children with your words or actions, apologize today. Don't leave it unattended to. Take care of it. Show your kids that a repentant heart is the best kind to have. You will be encouraged by the outcome, I guarantee it.