My soon to be eight-year-old daughter looked at me this morning with tears in her beautiful eyes and said, "Mommy will you please forgive me?" She knew she had spent the previous two hours displaying some pretty selfish and irrational behavior regarding an issue that seems to be popping up more and more in her little second grade world. She had been angry at me all morning as we were trying to get ready for school.

The snowball effect of what started as me calling her out on something, had now rolled into a full blown over-emotional tear fest. She, just like me, hates to be called out on bad behavior. She, just like me, gets overly defensive, tries to shift the blame, and works hard to justify said behavior in some way that makes it seem less ugly. So here we were, sitting face to face at the kitchen island, both feeling overwhelmed by what to say.

We don't look anything alike on the outside. She has her Daddy's dark brown eyes, dimples, and height. But wow did God decide to give me a mirror inside my own soul when he designed my daughter to be a tiny replicate of myself in every other way possible. It makes me laugh most of the time, to see her react exactly like I would in any given situation. To see her try and argue a point exactly the way I would. To see her passion for all the things I do as well. But this morning, I knew I had to put on my tough love hat. Don't you hate that hat, mamas? I hate doing the tough love routine. But I know when it's all said and done, it's always worth the effort.

So we sat there, her with her quivering lip and me with my serious face. And I did the tough love speech and I handed out the consequences that she knew was coming. But then...oh but then...I got to do the really holy part of parenting. It's the part that teaches me way more than it teaches her. It's the part where I assure her of my unconditional, unstoppable love for her. It's when I remind her that if I didn't care about her, then I wouldn't care to correct her and point her in the right direction. And it's when I see her really start to get it. So when she looks me in the eyes and asks me to forgive her, I get to say "YES, my love!", I get to say, "Always, my love." I get to wipe away her tears, hold her tight in my arms, and remind her that there's nothing she can do that would make me love her any less than I already do. And the anger and tension held by both of us all morning began to melt away.

She still had tear stained cheeks when I walked to her to the bus stop just moments later. And I prayed that she was able to hold my words of love and forgiveness in her heart and feel completely light and free. I watched her climb onto the bus, shimmy into her seat, and give me the "I love you" sign with her hand through the window. And I found that tears of my own started to fall down my face. Because parenting is hard! And because I am only capable of loving and forgiving my daughter because Jesus first loved and forgave me. I'm so grateful that God continues to parent me, as I parent my children. I'm so thankful that I know first hand what it feels like to approach the throne in repentance, receive it immediately, and then move forward lighter and more free than ever before. Only then can I do the same for my children.

There's nothing more secure and more freeing than knowing the Creator of the universe loves and forgives me so willingly. I love seeing my children experience this same gift from me. May they be free to love and forgive others because they themselves were loved and forgiven.

"The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." -Psalm 103: 8-12

Bri Carlisle is wife to Mike, and Mama to Ashley and Dillon. You can find her at her newly rebranded website where she is passionately diving into the world of photography & design. You can also find her on Instagram as @briccarlisle


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