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Pastor viewpoint: A devotional for parenting

As I was sitting down to write this pastor's viewpoint during this Lenten season, I began to reflect on the Lenten disciplines of repentance, prayer, fasting, and works of love. All of these help us to grow closer to Christ. As I reflected on repentance and our need to seek forgiveness and also grant forgiveness to others, I began to think about the devotional my wife, Sara Sonnenberg, wrote this past week for our preschool parents entitled "Forgiveness and Parenting." It reminded me that we also need to forgive and forget our own mistakes. With this in mind I want to share my wife's devotional with you.

"It was late and Ethan, Adam, and I were 350 miles from home at my parents' house in Atlanta. I was trying to get the boys to settle down for bed and things were not going well. My patience and confidence in my parenting were waning. Having failed with bribes, I had moved onto threats about what the boys would lose if they didn't go to sleep soon. In retaliation, my oldest stood up and shouted: "I hate you. Why are you being so rough?" I then shouted back, "Just go to bed!" I slammed the bedroom door and waited in the dark hallway to calm down while listening to my son's tears.

Long after the boys were asleep, guilt and shame for my behavior robbed me of a peaceful night. I looked back at each flawed step of that evening's bedtime and berated myself for treating my children poorly. The next morning, even after I apologized to the boys and they acted as if nothing had happened, I couldn't forgive myself. Thankfully, my family could forgive me, and they helped me to see that I needed to let go of my guilty feelings and take courage in a new day. My mother-in- law, Diane, wisely told me that God blesses us all with a new dawn each day that begins with a clean slate. God wipes away our sins and helps us to start again (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14). And if we look to God for hope as parents, He will free us and our children from the burden and pain of the hurtful things we say or do to help us seek forgiveness from others and forgive ourselves. Paul reminds us in the book of Romans that nothing can ever separate from God's love: "Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity?...No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us." (8:35-37). As parents we all do things we wish we could undo. Christ has already forgiven you, so you can forgive yourself too!"

May God grant you the strength to forgive yourself for your wrongs as He has in Christ.

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