bookcover1Make This Mistake Count

Related Devotional: "Whose Best Are You Giving?"

 Although I love my daughters very much, I have not judged them fairly in some cases.  For instance, Candace was hurt by something I had said to her. (I had repeated this verbal offense several times throughout the years).  It was not my intention to cause her pain, but I truly thought I was right in what I was saying about her.  I could tell she was hurt, but when I calculated the reasons that she said she was in pain, I summed them up to be invalid because she was wrong and was just too stubborn to admit it. I noticed that she had become distant from me but remained cordial.  This began to concern me.  I hadn’t realized for a while that something was wrong in the relationship. Why didn’t she tell me what was bothering her?  I prided myself on trying to keep a good, open relationship with my daughters. But pride will get you in trouble.  It will make you think you’re doing better than you really are.  When we’re not being led by the Holy Spirit in our conversations and actions, we’ll mess up every time and cause extensive damage in our relationships.

The times that she did approach me concerning her offense, she felt that I hadn’t really heard her.  From my own experience, that is an awful feeling—not feeling heard and being misunderstood. After you’ve used all your words, time after time, in a relationship and there is no change, you can lose hope and just give up on things changing—but still continue to function and participate at some level in the relationship.

The Holy Spirit started speaking to me about Candace: “Because the relationship is important to her, she has made a decision to move on in the relationship and not bring up her pain anymore—even though she still feels like you never got it.”  But taking this approach didn’t bring any healing for her or reconciliation between the two of us in that area.  “She just gave up on you and concluded that you weren’t going to change.  She’s still in pain because this never got resolved.  It is important to her that you think the best of her and you see her heart. She feels like you don’t. You’ve attacked her character with the words you were saying.  Even if you thought you were right, there were better ways to handle the situation.  You could have been more patient. There are some things she may not understand now, even after you try to explain it to her, but as she grows older she’ll mature and get it. Her thinking will be different, more seasoned. But until that happens, her spirit doesn’t have to be broken because she doesn’t see it or understand it the way you do.” 

I again understood what mattered more than being right—the relationship. After the Holy Spirit dealt with me, I felt so stupid because I had taken my righteous stance on this for years. I went to her and told her I wanted to talk to her.  She had told me many times that I hadn’t been listening to her when she talked to me about the matter.  I told her that she was right; I hadn’t listened very well. I had been listening with my ears and my logic, but not my heart. I told her how sorry I was for not listening better. I couldn’t undo past my behavior, but I could make this bad situation count for something good (a teaching lesson).  I took my time when I talked with her because I knew how I handled this situation was very important. One day she would marry and have children of her own, and she needed me to get this right so she would know how to properly respond to her family and others when she was the offender. I told her that I realized that I had caused her pain in this area and had wounded her deeply. I wanted her to know that I really did understand how I made her feel. I expressed this in my words.  Candace is a tough cookie and she’s not a crier (like her mom), but the more I acknowledged her pain, admitted my wrong, and promised that I would allow God to change me, the more tears flowed down her face.  She tried to hold back the tears, but these words seemed to be what she had been waiting on for a long time. They seemed to bring healing like a balm. I saw it in her eyes. Her broken heart was being restored through words. Words are powerful. I realized that I hadn’t considered that she had a perspective too. Even if I didn’t agree with hers, I needed to show her respect in the conversation by not acting as if her perspective was stupid, dumb, or immature. She finally felt heard. But this took much too long to be resolved. She had been praying that I would get it for a long time, but she had stopped praying about it.

God had heard her initial prayer, but my stubbornness and self-righteousness had gotten in the way of Him speaking to my heart.  I wasn’t cooperating with Him. The Holy Spirit was accurate as always:  She confessed to me that she had declared me beyond changing in that area. (Remember, during this time I was writing a book on reconciliation, and don’t you think satan didn’t remind her of that!) Our words and our actions should not cause our children to waver in their faith toward the God that we have introduced them to. Candace had to struggle much too long, unnecessarily.  I was her teacher—naturally and spiritually. I was supposed to be the mature one.  Mature people acknowledge and admit their wrong—especially to those they have wounded.  Immature people don’t. Sometimes a person’s release and healing from being stuck is in your mouth I once heard someone say that “an apology takes the poison out of the wound” that you put there by your words or deeds.  Right before my eyes, I saw “words” bring some dead things back to life in her, such as her faith that God still answers prayer  I also realize that I couldn’t have just said anything to her and got the same results, such as a half-hearted, “Well, I said I was sorry” or “Well, if I said something to offend you, I’m sorry.”  The words she needed to hear helped her trust me again.  The “right words” had released her and set her free—words that expressed acknowledgment of her pain, admittance of my wrong, and love and concern for her. Why were the words I spoke so important and so effective?  Because they communicated to her that I was sincere about my apology and that her pain mattered. I also know from experience that when the right words are not spoken by someone, the Holy Spirit will come directly to your rescue and speak to you personally Himself.  But God wants to use us to be the agents that He works through.

(Book Excerpt taken from pages 138-141 of Can’t Shout It Out! You Have To Walk It Out!).

Click to read the related devotional "Whose Best Are You Giving?"

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