And today, again, I thought about the anime when I was home with my family. I had put the children to bed after a tough day, one in which I was harder with my children than I should been. I immediately regretted how mean my words had been to them, as I was short on patience and self-control.
That reminded me of Tumblr, where many of those who follow me seem to think I’m a great father. Someone sent me a message saying I was a “cool dad.” I wanted to say, “No! You’ve got it all wrong! I want to be a good dad, but I fail time and time again – too many times to count!”
Luckily, my children are so much more innocent, loving, and kind than I am. Often when I lose my temper and admonish them, I’ll go back later and apologize, telling them that I shouldn’t have been so harsh. And without fail, the vocal response I get back is this:
I forgive you.
There are perhaps no stronger words in our language than these, with denote mercy and love. It’s a kind of love that’s difficult for most to give, though in children, we find the opposite to be true. In Clannad, Ushio pushes aside years of neglect and general grumpiness directed toward her to shower her full love upon Tomoya, in effect offering forgiveness to her father both readily and continually. She doesn’t even need to think about forgiving – it just is. Tomoya is her dad, and she loves him no matter what.
Jesus tells us that we, too, should be like children:
And [Jesus] said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.’
– Matthew 18: 2-5
It takes humility to forgive someone. As a child realizes he or she is not above a mom or dad, we, too, must realize that we are no better than our neighbors, and certainly no better than a God who models forgiveness for us and grace through the cross.
As we come into this holiday season, there’s no better time of year to forgive those who’ve hurt us, even those who have created long-lingering wounds in our hearts. Like Ushio, we can restore relationships by having the heart of child – the heart that God adores.