Forgiveness: A Mother's Perspective

Yew Dell Gardens


To err is human; to forgive, divine.

Alexander Pope

When I was in college I made an observation about my mother that would forever change my view of her:  my mom was always quick to forgive her children and she never held grudges against them.  On the journey to becoming an adult, when I reflected on my childhood, I realized that even though I was a "good" kid, I still treated my family, especially my mom, pretty crappy at times.  After I got married our relationship changed.  She was no longer a mother authoritarian figure, but a mother friend.  She would always pick up the phone when I called and any time I was short with her, she was (and is) still eager to forgive.  

My Mom and Some of the Grandkids
In the book, "Something Other Than God", Jennifer Fulwiler, an atheist who was searching for God, relays a comical story about her son and mother.  At the time she had an 18 month old son and was very pregnant with her second child.  Jennifer and her husband lived with her mom and their son, who just happened to be in a phase where he was not sleeping at night.  After a long night and morning, she finally was able to get her son to lie down for a nap.  Much to her dismay, after 10 minutes, he woke up.  She writes, "My assessment of the situation was that he was never going back to sleep.  Not today, not ever - and that not just my day, but my entire life was now ruined."  (Being a mom of a three year old girl, I can completely relate to this.)  After she gets her son up, he goes into a full on tantrum.  While she is trying to negotiate with him by offering him cereal, he knocks the entire box out of her hands.  She is left with a huge mess to clean up.  Once she has finished cleaning the mess, her mother comes in and, unaware of what just happened, begins to tell her that she ruined her bowl by putting it on the wrong rack in the dishwasher.  Jennifer is already furious and this puts her over the edge.  She yells at her mom and storms out of the room.  Later, after being convicted of her actions, Jennifer went to apologize to her mom.  Jennifer says, "It was clear that she'd already forgiven me for my outburst."  

Prior to having children, I always wondered why my mom was so forgiving.  However, now that I have a child, I can better understand the grace she has always given.  When you have a child you carry them in your belly for forty weeks.  That is the closest any human will ever get to you.  You are part of their DNA.  As they grow, you see traits of theirs that are from you (for better or worse), and when they begin to speak, they begin to use your phraseology (the other day when I was trying to brush my daughter's teeth while she was putting her shoes on, she said, "I can only do one thing at a time."  She wasn't being sassy when she said it, like I usually am when I say it, she was just explaining why I couldn't brush her teeth.)  Even if your kids are not your biological children, you can see them pick up traits of yours as you teach them and as they grow.  Your children are made in your image.  So, when the inevitable tantrums come, when they hit or kick you, or when they tell you they hate you, you remember who they are (most likely after a long nap or piece of cake) and who's they are.  And you forgive.  

I am on the top left and my daughter is on the bottom right.  She is definitely made in my image.
Meg Meeker says when you are having a rough day with your children, 
you should watch them sleep.  Then all will be forgiven.  

Looking through old photos helps too.
Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.  You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
Micah 7:18-19

And that is how God sees you.  If you think of the many times a day you have to forgive your own children, that times a thousand is how many times God forgives you.  He loves us.  He has adopted us as his children.  When we hated him and were his enemies, he sent his son to die for us.  Because of his son's sacrifice, he chooses to forgive our tantrums and the times we show him that we hate him with our actions.  He is eager to do it every single time without holding one grudge.  He forgives us fully and completely.

The next time you are having one of "those" days (I've had a hundredfold since I originally wrote this), take a deep breath (don't forget to exhale) and remember how God has forgiven you and go and do likewise. 


  1. Gosh, I don't remember reading this before. This is something I had observed about my mother. Sweet for you to say, but definitely a work of God.


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