22 You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
25 So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not make room for the devil. 28 Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. 29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up,as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. 5 1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, 2 and live in love, as Christ loved usand gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Imitating Christ is not always easy, but then his was not an easy journey as he had to face resistance from the people he sought to help, as well as from those in power. Despite the troubles he faced Jesus still treated those who hated him with compassion and love, but he also told them the truth, which is not always a welcome thing; while the truth may set us free, it can also piss us off!
The truth for us as single parents is that it can be difficult for us to follow Jesus’ example as we are only human and it can be hard for us to show the forgiveness that Jesus did towards those who did not show compassion to him. As single parents, there are times when we can get overwhelmed by our responsibilities, and we become too busy, too stressed, and too frustrated, and we can wind up acting without thinking…and then can find ourselves losing our temper with our children, when they do not act the way we would like them to; instead of showing them patience and offering calm direction our resentments can get the better of us…as sometimes justifiable anger feels so good especially when it feels like our kids are not listening to us, or actively defying us!
At least it can feel good while we’re in the moment, but when that moment passes that flash of temper does not feel quite so good, and instead can feel foolish and embarrassing as we think of the ‘evil’ that can come out of our mouths when we become angry! Worse is realizing that we spewed this anger at our children…
There are many nights when I went to bed feeling righteously angry, only to calm down and realize how wrong I was. True, my daughter was often wrong too…but I could do nothing about what she did (at least nothing more now that I had already lost my temper) but I could make amends for the wrong I had done…problem was that I was often too stubborn to do this…I knew I was wrong but still tried to justify my behavior, and spend many nights tossing and turning because I had gone to sleep angry.
Inevitably, I would finally break-down, pray for forgiveness and then either apologize to my daughter for losing my temper in the morning, or sometimes even wake her up to let her know how sorry I was…often when I did, she too would still be awake and upset.
Once we made amends, we both slept better.
This is one thing my parents seldom did with me, but which I find is important to do with my daughter…to admit when I was wrong, and to make amends for it.
An important part of making amends is showing forgiveness to each other and to ourselves: to my daughter for whatever she did to upset me, and to myself for losing my temper in the first place.
This is not easy for us to do because we are human beings, it is understandable that sometimes our frustrations will get the better of us…and because we are single parents it can feel as if we are facing these challenges alone, and we can find our frustrations shared equally with our children, and those well-meaning adults (i.e. teachers, friends, and professionals) who are only trying to give us advice, but can wind up annoying us because we don’t always like being told the truth: that we could do things better.
It is because we are human that it can be so hard to for us follow the example of Christ, and we often fall short…but this is where we have our good news for today: that we ARE forgiven for falling short!
Just as we are able to forgive our children, so does God forgive us for our mistakes, because we are well-loved children of God…and as such we are surrounded by grace and love that can see us through the obstacles of anger and frustration that we may put in our own way.
And once forgiven, we are freed from our guilt and shame, and can even put aside our ‘justifiable’ anger and listen to the advice of others (rather than just be upset with them for trying to tell us what to do) who can help us to learn new ways to handle these stressful situations…as we strive to imitate Christ, who showed love and compassion to all people, including his enemies; because it is only through love that we can make amends to each other for the hurt we have caused, and when we make amends we can find peace and reconciliation…and where there is reconciliation God’s healing love is in our midst!
Let us Pray:
Dear God, we thank you for forgiving us for when we fall short, and for showing us the way to a faith that works. Thank you also for putting good people in our lives who can help us to imitate you; please help us put aside any resentments or stubbornness so that we can open our hearts and listen to their wisdom. Let us remember that it is by following your example that we can become better, and more understanding parents, able to forgive and to ask for the forgiveness of our children when we have fallen short. Please help us to be examples of our love in action in the midst of our children’s lives and of the world.