Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I've implemented a new rule at our house.

No more saying "I'm sorry" for something you've already been forgiven for.

We are done with that business.

The other night I bent down to kiss Ethan goodnight and to tell him, like I do every night, that I am proud of him and that I'm glad that he is my son.

He looked up at me and said, "I'm sorry."

He says he is sorry often.

But that night I realized they weren't empty words. They were filled with sorrow and shame.

I looked him in the eyes and asked him, "When did I forgive you?"

He said, " In the very beginning."

"Then there is no reason to say you are sorry about it again."

I went to bed that night and I couldn't get all of his "I'm sorrys" out of my mind.

I couldn't get all my "I'm sorrys" out of my mind.

I wondered if my repeated asking for forgiveness of sins-long-forgiven grieve the heart of God like Ethan's persistent "I'm sorry" was grieving me.

The last thing I've ever wanted is for my child to feel shame. Yet there in the quiet darkness, God showed me that while it hurts me for Ethan to hang on to his shame, I am more than willing to hang on to mine.

 I whispered, "Father, have I hurt you like this? Have I hurt you by my repeated "I'm sorrys" and by holding onto my shame?

His quiet tender voice said, "Yes."

I thought about what words I would have rather heard Ethan say, instead of  the "I'm sorrys."

"I love you . . .  I know you love me . . . Thank you . . .  I'm glad you're my mom . . . I'm glad we're here together. . .  Thanks for seeing the best in me.. . Thanks for loving me.. . Sweet dreams . . .

I would have loved to have heard him say what he would say to me as a little boy . . . You're the best mother in the whole wide "wor'd." (Yes. We had some problems with our "r" combinations for a while.)

When I realized how my "repeated sorrys" had hurt my Father, I said I was sorry.

I wanted to say it over and over again, but I wouldn't let myself.

My repeated "sorrys" had turned into a way to earn His forgiveness.

I had been trusting in my sorrow and sincerity more than I had been trusting in His Word.

I had been making an idol out of the words, "I'm sorry."

I took a deep breath and let the shame go and started, once again, to trust.

"We are never more courageous 
than when we accept God's forgiveness."(unknown)

"Thank you Father for loving me. I love you. Thank you that you are here with me. Thank you that you will never leave me. You are so good to me. Thanks for seeing the best in me; for your tenderness and compassion. Thanks for being the best Father in the whole, wide world."

Several nights later, we were leaving Seth's condo.  Jim was putting Ethan's chair in the trunk, and Seth was standing by Ethan's window telling him how much he loved him.

Ethan looked at Seth and said, "I'm sorry."

Immediately I said, "Remember. We aren't doing that anymore."

Seth asked what we were talking about.

Ethan said, "I'm not allowed to say I'm sorry for things you have already forgiven me for."

Seth looked at me with a puzzled look on his face.

Before I could explain, Ethan said . .

"It's done. It's finished."

Yes Ethan.

It really is.

"Then I acknowledged my sin to You
and did not cover up my iniquity. 
I said, "I will confess my transgression to the LORD"- 
and you forgave the guilt of my sin."
Psalm 32:5 


  1. You're so right about shame and love. I'm so glad God showed you how he loves you like you love your son and how he wants to hear our love for him more than anything. I love you, Lord!
    Thank you for posting this.