Still recuperating from the big Bridal Fair and response afterwards I haven't had the opportunity to take the flat screen we used at the booth back to my studio. It was still sitting on the floor of our family room downstairs. I was upstairs working on some pictures and Kara was getting dinner ready when I heard a huge BANG! I heard two of my boys start crying loudly and I was certain they were seriously hurt. I ran to find out what had happened and before I could see the TV both Kevin and Michael (my sons) came running up the stairs absolutely bawling. In the midst of their crying they muttered the words, "We broke your TV."
They had been running around downstairs on our wood floors and Kara had told them to stop because they could break something. I asked them if they were okay...and once they said they were my first inclination was to be upset over the TV....we're talking thousands of dollars here! I didn't say a word to them as I waited to collect myself. I had them sit on the floor in front of me and I asked them what consequences they thought they should have. They said, "No ice cream today,"..."No fun tonight,"...."Go to bed early," (they really liked that one because they thought that would get them out of any punishment I might give). As mad as I was I almost laughed a few times when they would think for a minute and give me their version of what a punishment should be. When I asked them for more ideas after they gave me a suggestion they would say, "Not big enough, huh?" While we were doing this I was immediately reminded of a story of me and my Dad years ago...and I thought the best way to handle it was to share that story with them.
I wiped away their tears and told them to sit on my lap. I told them that when I was a young boy I had a paper route. My Dad would take me as I sat in the back of his truck that had a camper shell. The back window over the tailgate would open up and I could throw the papers to the customers driveways in the neighborhood. I always had to remember to close the window before my Dad pulled the truck into the garage once we were done. Well, one day I forgot and the window to the truck got ripped off the camper as we drove into the garage. I felt horrible and didn't know what to say. My Dad gave me a good talk about remembering my responsibilities and that I couldn't forget to close the window. I used all my remaining paper route money for the month to chip in to buy a new window.
For the next three weeks every time we came into the driveway he would stop and remind me to close the window and we were in a groove. Well, we started doing it again without me needing to be reminded and a couple weeks later while doing the paper route again we pulled into the garage and just like the slow motion on the Matrix movies I watched in horror as the new window started to get yanked off the camper because I had again forgotten to close it. As the crashing and ripping noises commenced I was planning my escape route to get out of there. He stopped when he heard the noises and I jumped out of the truck and ran into my room. I was mortified and certain serious consequences were coming. I could hear the echoes of my Mom and Dad talking in the garage and about five minutes later I heard my Dad's footsteps coming up the stairs to my room.
My Dad opened my door and came into my room. He stood there for a moment and looked down on my face red from crying and he started to get teary eyed himself. He came over to me and sat down on my bed and told me about the concept of repenting and forgiving and that God looks for our level of remorse, not for a specific consequence when we are forgiven by Him for something we do wrong. My Dad told me that I already felt worse than anything any consequence or lecture he could give me could make me feel. He proceeded to tell me that I was forgiven and ended the conversation with a hug and said, "I love you son."
As I shared this story with my boys they understood why I was telling them the story. I ended the conversation by telling them that I forgive and very much love both of them and that I will always love them so much more than I could ever love a TV...I was so grateful that I had a Father and Mother that understood the power of forgiveness and taught it to me at such a young age. I hope my boys will some day be able to share this story with their children when they will undoubtedly do something that will require them to forgive and love as well.