Friday, April 22, 2011
It's Too Late to Say You're Sorry
As a parent, do you ever find things flying out of your mouth that you simply can’t believe you just let loose?
I sure hope I’m not the only one.
There are times I say something absolutely nonsensical, just to be silly along with my three-year-old. There are times, I utter an ALMOST curse word in front of my niece. There are times I am simply too honest.
And then there are those times. Those times I make a comment that seems so logical and fair in my head, but when spoken aloud make me pause.
Last week, I had one of those moments.
My three-year-old had done something particularly atrocious. No, don’t ask me what, because of course I just don’t remember. (Isn’t that how it always goes? In the moment it’s heinous, but tomorrow, the details are fuzzy and next week you will have no recollection of the event - only the discipline that followed.) But I know it was awful and abominable - as abominable as a three-year-old can get. Most likely it had something to do with throwing toys.
He had done this abominable thing many times. And I warned him. Multiple exhortations. I clearly laid out our rules, I clearly stated why his action was wrong, and I clearly let him know what the consequences would be if he continued this behavior.
He did it again.
Despite my warnings. Despite my stern looks. Despite the concern I expressed at the displeasure he’d exhibit when forced to endure the consequences. He paid no heed whatsoever.
And so, I enacted The Consequence. Which happened to be going to his room for a time out. I pointed my finger to the stairs and told him to march. He stubbornly refused. I explained the situation and told him he knew the consequences when he [insert horrible behavior here], and he better get moving or else. (I didn’t really HAVE an or else up my sleeve. I was just hoping for action.) He grew more obstinate. I gave him one more warning, complete with counting to three - something my mom pulled on me and which I now lovingly pass on to my children.
My strong voice settled resolutely on the last number - it hung in the air as bug stared at me, moving not a muscle. I stared back.
Then I stood, took him firmly by the arm and led him up the stairs.
THAT got a reaction. At first he attempted a feeble resistance - dragging his feet and yelling no. As we drew closer to his room, he realized it wasn’t working and pulled out the big guns. Tears. Tears larger than my fist, pouring out of his eyes. His chin trembled and his voice quavered as he looked at me, pleadingly. “But... but, I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” He stuttered.
I could not be moved with crocodile tears and pouting lower lips. I would not be swayed from my course and would focus only on the disturbingly awful behavior and the subsequent defiance.
I heard a loud voice snarl, “It’s too late for that! It’s too late to say you’re sorry!” I can imagine my ugly face screwed up in anger as I closed my three-year-old’s door.
I stood with my hand on the handle. The moment the words had been flung into the air I knew I shouldn’t have said them.
Why? I know there are much worse things I could have thrown out. But when the door snapped shut, I realized the unfairness of what I had uttered. And I wondered, was that really my voice? Did I really just tell my three-yr-old that it was too late to say he was sorry?
And more importantly: would my Heavenly Father ever say that to me?
As I sit weeping at His feet for all of my atrocious behavior. As I let each tear bear record of every mistake, every heinous moment. As I pour myself out to Him, remembering in detail my stubbornness and defiance. Would he look at my tears and sorrow and tell me, “It’s too late, Kimberly. It’s too late to say you’re sorry.”
Or would He accept my penance as good enough, make up the difference willingly, and move on?
Just as I did for my three-yr-old, He has clearly stated the rules. He has explained and taught. He has outlined the consequences. He has given warnings.
And sometimes, despite it all, I still fail Him.
Somehow, I don’t believe He would ever twist His face into an ugly grimace and refuse my pleadings.
Not that there wouldn’t be consequences. Sure, maybe I’d still have to sit in my room for a time out. But before He snapped the door shut, He would ensure I felt His love. He would wrap His arms around me. Accept my apologies. And wipe my tears.
I hope to remember the example of a loving Father when I interact with my kids.
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