Tonight, I yelled at "The Princess," one of the girls I watch.
I've yelled at the Princess lots of times. Most of the time she had it coming. She probably deserved it tonight, too. She wasn't listening. But I still felt bad for yelling at her.
I try to be gracious. Then I fail. And I find myself being the one who has to accept grace.
The Princess has some pride issues. She HATES to be wrong (don't we all). And if she's wrong, and she's wrong a lot...because she's a kid...and a human being, too boot--well, if she's wrong and you catch her being wrong, well, she doesn't forgive that easily.
However, I find her to be very forgiving when other people are wrong. For example, when I apologized for yelling at her, she shrugged and said it was okay. When I asked if I had scarred her for life, she grinned and told me I'm weird. In her vocabulary, "You're weird, Ruth" is synonymous with "I love you, Ruth." At least I hope so, because she says it all the time.
The Princess and I are a lot alike. I see a lot of who I was (and still can be) in her. It's easy to forgive sometimes. It's not so easy to ask for forgiveness.
When we forgive, we get to be the bigger person. We get to be the hero. That's a good feeling.
When we ask for forgiveness, we have to humble ourselves. We have to admit a we are at fault. We have to admit that we aren't these perfect people who always have it together. We have to put ourselves at the other end of grace, hoping the other person will give it, because we need it in order for the relationship to continue and grow.
That's not fun. But I would venture to say that graciously accepting grace is just as (if not more) important as freely giving grace.
After all, as fallen, sinful humans, we aren't fully able to forgive others until we're able to humble ourselves and accept the grace of God. We can't begin to comprehend the power of grace until we realize (on some level) just how much grace God gives us.
And when we mess up, as I did tonight with the Princess, we have an opportunity. I could have just brushed off the whole encounter with the Princess. She gets yelled at so much that she can brush it off quickly. But I took the time to pull her aside (after we had both calmed down) and model humility. That doesn't mean she's going to develop her own sense of humility overnight, but children need to understand that it's okay to mess up. They need to see that there's a proper response for those times when we mess up.
Guilt is human, meaningless, and leads to self pity and inaction. Conviction is from God, meaningful, and leads to humility and change.
We need to learn to accept grace and even seek it out--even when it's scary and could lead to rejection. And we need to give grace to others, for we have likewise been forgiven.
We are all undeserving princesses and princess. We aren't perfect, but we should strive to honorably represent our Father in all and say and do.
...Even when we fail.