I forgive you

Will has spent some time in time-out recently. He's an awesome two-year-old and that's what they do.

Our time-out routine ends like this ...
  • The parent who put him in time-out walks over to him
  • We sit down next to him
  • We remind him why he was in time-out
  • We ask him to say "I'm sorry"
  • He says "I'm sorry"
  • We say "I forgive you"
  • Hugs and kisses
  • Time-out is over

Now, I'm not sure we're doing time-out perfectly. Some more-perfect parent can chime in and give us advice.

But I've noticed something recently ...

When the time comes and Will says "I'm sorry," I struggle to say "I forgive you." Now, this isn't because I'm angry or harboring unforgiveness in my heart toward my son. No, it's something else.

I want to say "It's no big deal."

This is my default response to tense, awkward or painful situations. If someone hurts me and then apologizes, I say "It's no big deal." If someone says something that dings my pride, I say "It's no big deal." If someone says I'm sorry (whether they mean it or not), I move quickly to downgrading the situation. No. Big. Deal.

But this isn't a helpful practice.

If it's no big deal, then why shouldn't I do it again?
If it's no big deal, then why am I apologizing?
If it's no big deal, then why am I in time-out?

So, I'm left with a conundrum. I know that "I forgive you" is a better response. Why is it so hard for me to say?

Has anyone else given this some thought?


  1. To me, there have been no three words that have been more difficult to say. It's even more difficult to say to someone or about someone when he/she isn't sorry, when he/she doesn't recognize his/her own wrongdoing, and/or when he/she has no intention of ceasing the behavior. You know, I have had to say I forgive you about a thousand times to my mother in my own heart and mind. Is she sorry for hurting me and those whom I love? Is she repentant for years and years of systematic abuse and dishonesty? Does she realize that she has now excluded herself from my life and my future? You know, it's just three words that we all experience when we come to Christ. That's how I know I can say it to and about my mom. That's how I know I'm no better than she is in God's eyes. It's just three words that can cover a multitude of sins. My sin. My mom's sin. The sin of the world. It's just three words that can bring healing and hope to the hurting. And those words have brought healing and hope to my hurting heart. I can only hope and pray that one day, they will resound in my mom's ears and that she will embrace the forgiveness and get help for herself.

  2. Thanks for sharing, Margaret.

    Forgiveness can be so difficult, even if we believe we should do it. We've all heard that forgiveness is like releasing a prisoner and discovering that that prisoner was you. And we've all heard Jesus says that unless we forgive, we won't be forgiven. But until God opens a door for you to say the words and see her response, it will be tough to feel free and to feel like you've really forgiven. I know it's out of your control and I know that has to be so tough for you. I really wish she would give you the opportunity to tell her you forgive her. I think that would be life-changing for her. I wish she would seek it out.