The Value of Forgiveness
“Daddy, here, take this money!” my 7 year old blubbered as she cried in much shame and sadness.
“Why are you giving me this?” I asked a bit puzzled. Kaitlyn handed me a single dollar and a few silver coins she had retrieved from her piggy bank up stairs.
“I don’t deserve this money, Daddy! I didn’t earn it!” She was balling profusely.
Still a bit confused I began to understand where she was going. You see, Kaitlyn had just been disciplined a few minutes earlier. She and her younger twin sisters had had a less than stellar performance at the local craft and hardware store on a family outing, and she had received some loving correction when we'd gotten home. Her crying was intense, and it made my heart sink as she seemed to be very down on herself -- sure of her belief that the dollar and change that she handed me was a value that she didn’t merit.
“Kaitlyn,” I replied as I handed her back the money, “you earned this by helping mommy and daddy around the house. You were disciplined today because of your actions while we were out, but that has nothing to do with your money.”
We began a conversation that was heartbreaking to me as I listened to my precious daughter explain to me why she thought her value was down. She had failed daddy, and in her shame felt worthless -- and that any value that she did have needed to be returned.
Like any good father should, I began to console and reassure my daughter of her immense value to me. I shared with her that her actions had consequences and that her actions today led to negative consequences for her good and safety, but that in no way did I love her any less, and in no way could she ever do anything that would make daddy want to strip her of who she is or what she has. I held her close, rubbing her back and speaking words of affirmation and affection for two or three minutes while she calmed down and relaxed. As a Dad, you can physically feel your children relax in your arms when they feel safe and comforted after moments of anxiety, fear, and sadness, and there isn’t a feeling in the world that can compare.
It made me sad and a bit angry to see my daughter go through these few moments of shame and fear, but I was reminded of what was going on spiritually.
In John 10:10 Jesus says: “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy.” As I held my baby girl close, I was keenly aware that Satan was trying destroy my daughter's confidence in who she was. He wanted her to feel unworthy of love. He wanted her to throw away any value she had and eventually feed her the lie that she needs to go find it somewhere else.
It could have been very easy for me to dismiss my daughter as overreacting and not acknowledge what she was going through. I’m sure I’ve had times when I’ve stripped her of value, unintentionally, by ignoring a need or dismissing a concern. For that I pray for grace every day.
But in this moment, I was convinced that like our Heavenly Father does with his children, I needed to remind her of who she is and what value she has as my child.
My Prayer as her father is this:
Father, often times as a parent I can unintentionally devalue my children through impatience, anger, frustration, or apathy. Give me the wisdom and sensitivity to seek your and their forgiveness in these moments. And often times, just like I mistakenly feel unworthy of your love my children can do the same. Help me to encourage and assure them with the same unconditional love that you speak and show to me.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8: 37-39
The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17
By Jonathan Pitts