'If he trespass against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to you, saying, I repent; you shall forgive him' (Luke 17:4). As the searcher of hearts, the Lord knows that men are liable to very frequent trespass, and that, having fallen, they often rise up again; therefore He has given us the commandment to frequently forgive trespasses, and He Himself is the first to fulfill His holy word. As soon as you say from your whole heart, 'I repent,' you will be immediately forgiven. -St. John of Kronstadt
So many times each day I fall; I speak impatiently to my precious children, get irritated with my loved ones, judge others in my heart, seek selfish pursuits instead of serving my family. The list could go on and on. I'm challenged by this quote on two levels. The first, is to repent, quickly, when I've sinned, and to receive God's grace and forgiveness. This repentance includes asking my children and husband, who are the most frequent recipients of my selfishness, for their forgiveness. I do this often, and am humbled by how quickly they forgive and move on.
The second aspect is for me to forgive quickly. When the children have disobeyed, or been unkind to each other, or complained, or whatever it is, I need to deal with it quickly and compassionately, and move on. "The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in mercy... As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear them." (Psalm 103:8, 13) I've been convicted lately by my lack of compassion for my children. Compassion is defined as "a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering." When my children sin, I must confess that most often what I feel is not "deep sympathy". It is more akin to anger, frustration, impatience. They are suffering under the yoke of sin, and as their mama, it is my job to lead them gently to the One who can alleviate this suffering. I expect so much of them, but they are children. They are not miniature adults. And while that doesn't mean I should let them be disobedient, or mean, or rude, I do need to remember that they are young and impulsive and innately selfish. Kind of like their mother (only I'm older and know better.) I need to forgive them quickly, and by God's grace, even if they repeat their folly two minutes later, not throw up my hands in exasperation!
If God so quickly forgives me all day long, then I need to do the same for my precious children. By His grace, may I learn to know His forgiveness, great mercy, love, and compassion so that these things will spill out of me onto my little ones. I want to become like Him, slow to anger and abounding in mercy. I have a long, long way to go toward this, but, I believe that if I walk in repentance and humility, getting up when I have fallen, He will continue to change me by His grace.