STEP NINE CONTINUED: Forgive ourselves for all harm we may have caused, even if it was well-intended.
Instruction: Be gracious.
It is with permission that I share the following story of a young father who was in the process of going through a divorce with the mother of his three-year-old son. The young boy, even at the age of three, understood more than what the father gave him credit for and was acting out his hurt and pain in inappropriate ways. He didn’t understand why his dad wasn’t with his mom, and he was angry. When it was suggested to the father that he apologize to his son for the situation, the man responded by saying, “There’s no way I’m going to apologize to a three-year old.” How sad — not just for the child but also for the father. He didn’t recognize the damage he was doing to his son by withholding his apology, but he also didn’t see the damage he was doing to himself and to his future relationship with his child
Apologies are simple things, and if we can let go of our pride and get in the habit of making them in the small matters, then when the big crises come along we will not find it nearly as difficult. Perhaps the father felt he didn’t need to apologize, because he felt his actions were justified in one way or another. It’s not for me to judge his actions, because I don’t know the circumstances, and, even if I did, it still wouldn’t be my place to judge. An apology can be such a powerful tool for healing. Sometimes that healing doesn’t happen in the present moment, but the memory of that attempt can help when someone, a young child in this case, reflects over his situation later in life. We might think that a three-year-old doesn’t understand, and with some children that might be true. We never know when a child’s internal self-esteem and ability to love and accept love is damaged by a mood of hatred, strife, and bitterness. Giving an apology, even if we don’t think we need to, is a matter of being gracious, and graciousness is a good thing.
Today’s assignment is to look for ways to be gracious. Give an apology to someone if you think you might have said or done something to offend them. Show appreciation for something someone said or did. And, don’t forget to be gracious with yourself.
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