Having a functional family is not always a picnic. Children don’t learn how bad things can be when they haven’t experienced bad things, and they may think something of minor significance is devastating.
A minor smudge seems major against a white background. The result is protected kids can become mercilessly judgmental.
With such functional families, I display a new, unwrinkled, white piece of paper. I ask, “Do you see how nice this is?”
Then I draw a half-inch line on it with the tip of a black felt-tip marker, and I ask, “Do you see how obvious is one black mark on a clean sheet of paper?”
On another sheet of paper, I doodle all over it. I draw straight lines, squiggles and smudges.
Holding it up for viewing, I say, “This paper represents a family where serious wrong has frequently occurred, and family members have acclimated to seeing hurtful attitudes and behaviors and forgiving them.”
While on display, I draw a half-inch mark. “See? On a cluttered background — on a background of chaos — one more muddled occurrence doesn’t seem terribly obvious?”
My opportunity is to help people choose to be fair toward family members who have lived responsibly until making a serious mistake. Don’t fall out of love with them as if they are disposable. Don’t reject them as if they are failures. Forgive them, love them and help them up.
I’m simply requesting loved ones align themselves with God’s attitude with altitude. The Bible says, “The Lord guides us in the way we should go and protects those who please him. If they fall, they will not stay down, because the Lord will help them up (Psalm 37:23-24, Good News Bible).
From my human perspective as a counselor who has been with thousands of families in almost half a century of counseling experiences, I say to the offended, “No one makes it all the way through the 62 years of adulthood without making serious mistakes. It’s what we have in common. That’s why there is the mercy of forgiveness.”
I teach forgiveness because kids of functional homes haven’t exercised their forgiving “muscle,” and that “muscle” hasn’t become well developed. Ability to forgive tends to be weak. The result is that they often look askance at adults, without forgiving them.
I explain to children that they should extend the same for which they cry: fairness. “‘That’s not fair!’ is ever upon your lips, so be fair with adults who’ve messed up and are trying to recover. Forgive them.
“When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we pray, ‘forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;’ let’s be certain our prayers come true.”
Kids, at home or grown, need to be open to redemption to redeem that which is redeemable and, if at all practical, not lose a relationship with a parent, grandparent or guardian over minor problems that masquerade as major problems.
And remember God designed forgiveness as a cycle. He forgives us, and we forgive others. We must not balk and become a broken conduit in God’s system. If we do, it will be to our own shock and awe — lo and behold! What we measure to others is measured back to us. What goes around really does come around.
Kelley Tindall, office manager of His Love Counseling Services, provided the perfect Scripture to go with this column. Here is Proverbs 19:11 from the Amplified Bible:
“Good sense and discretion make a man (or woman) slow to anger, and it is his (or her) honor and glory to overlook a transgression or an offense (without seeking revenge and harboring resentment).”