Like everything else Ethan learns, I need to be able to say, “See? This is how you do it.” “This is how to hate your own pride.” “Pay attention; this is how you show mercy.” “Watch me love when I don’t feel like it.”
“Okay, Ethan. Now you do it. I will help you.”
Because, after all, if forgiveness does not grow in a person’s heart, something else will plant itself in the soil of a hurting heart. Bitterness. A deadly cancer which fools you into thinking you’re punishing the offender, when all the while the only one dying inside is you.
No doubt my mistakes as a mother will be many. I am saddened to think that my son will have to, like everyone else, endure the pain of recognizing his parents weren’t perfect. I wish I could be everything he needed, at every moment. But my imperfection as a caregiver will prepare him to deal will an imperfect world, where he will have to find it in himself to love when it’s painful, show mercy to the undeserving, and to forgive wholeheartedly.
But he will only find these things in his heart if they’ve been planted.