Plant Seeds, Prevent Cancer

I was reading a most excellent post this morning by Ann Voskamp on forgiving your parents, when my toddler son, Ethan, walked up with puckered lips, wanting a kiss. The stark contrast between what I was reading in the blog and experiencing in the moment made me think about the fact that, someday, Ethan will be trying to find it in his heart to forgive me for my failures as a parent. This simple adoration won’t, can’t, shouldn’tlast.What will I have done? To prepare him, that is? It may be at that point that my failures as a mother will matter much less than whether he’s had the right kind of seeds planted in his heart.Am I working to plant that seed of forgiveness now, so when he needs it later, in all relationships, it will be rooted deep? Will he see forgiveness as part of the daily ebb and flow of our lives? Will I swallow my pride, tell him when I’ve been wrong, and ask for his forgiveness? Even when he doesn’t realize I was wrong? Will he see me act with humility, forgiving and asking forgiveness of others?
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.


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