Day 71: A Fatherly Lesson in Forgiveness

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If you’re human, then the following lesson probably applies to you. I know that does to me. We all do things that we regret. We all face moments when we must ask forgiveness of others. Chances are, you’re like the rest of us and are not yet a perfect father. There will be many times we need to ask forgiveness of your children for your shortcomings, and likely there will be many times when your children should apologize to you.

I was fortunate to have a forgiving father who taught me the value of forgiving even when you don’t feel like it. The person asking forgiveness doesn’t always necessarily deserve it, but you always deserve the peace that comes from granting another person forgiveness who has wronged you.

My dad introduced a powerful lesson about forgiveness on the family night we had long ago. He filled a clear measuring cup that held about 2 cups of water to the brim. He then applied several drops of dark red food coloring. We watched in fascination as tendrils of colors snaked through the water, eventually turning the entire contents red. “This is what happens when you do something wrong. It may seem like this water that is never going to be all right again. Do you think that there is any way that we could turn this water clear again?”

We all shook our heads. Obviously, the food coloring had spread throughout the whole glass of water and this was something that couldn’t be undone.

My father then took a small glass which contained bleach. He poured it little by little into the red stained water. Slowly, the color in the water lightened and then, to our astonishment, disappeared altogether.

The water returned to its clear state with no indication of the deep red dye that had permeated it. “This is the power of repentance and forgiveness,” he said. He likened it to a scripture from the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament. “Through your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow. Though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18, King James Version). This seems an appropriate passage for what we had just witnessed.

Red, crimson, scarlet. These are no easy things to make go away. Anyone who’s ever gotten a drop of blood on his clothing knows what that’s like. Ultimately, what my father taught me was that it was our duty to forgive others so that we might be forgiven by each other and by our Heavenly Father. That is a lesson I hope to instill as powerfully in my own children.

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