The value of forgiveness

Written by Jonathan Pitts
Published on July 17, 2020

My seven-year-old blubbered as she cried in much shame and sadness, “Daddy, here, take this money!” 

A bit puzzled, I asked, “Why are you giving me this?” Kaitlyn handed me a single dollar and a few silver coins she had retrieved from her piggy bank upstairs.

She balled profusely, “I don’t deserve this money, Daddy! I didn’t earn it!” 

I began to understand where she was going. You see, Kaitlyn had just been disciplined a few minutes earlier. On a family outing, she and her younger twin sisters had a less than stellar performance at the local craft and hardware store. They received some loving correction when we arrived home. 

Her crying was intense and made my heart sink as she seemed to be very down on herself. She was certain of her belief that the dollar and change was of a value that she didn’t merit.

A heartbreaking conversation

As I handed her back the money, I replied, “Kaitlyn, you earned this by helping mommy and daddy around the house. You were disciplined today because of your actions while we were out, but that has nothing to do with your money.”

We began a conversation that was heartbreaking as I listened to my precious daughter explain why she thought her value was less than. She had failed Daddy, and in her shame, felt worthless. Kaitlyn believed that any value that she did have needed to be returned.

Like any good father should, I began to console and reassure my daughter of her immense value. I explained that her actions have consequences for her good and safety. But I also reinforced the truth that in no way did I love her any less, and in no way could she ever do anything that would make Daddy want to strip her of who she is or what she has. 

I held her close, rubbed her back, and spoke words of affirmation and affection over her as she calmed down and relaxed. As a dad, you can physically feel your children relax when they feel safe and comforted after moments of anxiety, fear, and sadness. There isn’t a feeling in the world that can compare.

Remind them of their value

While it made me sad (and a bit angry) to see my daughter go through these few moments of shame and fear, I was reminded of what was going on spiritually.

In John 10:10 Jesus says: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” As I held my baby girl close, I was keenly aware that Satan was trying to destroy my daughter’s confidence in who she is. He wanted her to feel unworthy of love. He wanted her to throw away any value she had. And he wanted to feed her the lie that she needs to go find value somewhere else.

It would have been easy for me to dismiss Kaitlyn as overreacting, not acknowledging what she was going through. I’m sure I’ve had times where I’ve stripped her of value, unintentionally, by ignoring a need or dismissing a concern. For that I pray for daily grace.

But in this moment, I was convinced that like our heavenly Father reminds us, I needed to remind her of who she is and what value she holds as my child.

A father’s prayer

My prayer for my daughter is this:

Father, as a parent, I can unintentionally devalue my children through impatience, anger, frustration, and apathy. Give me the wisdom and sensitivity to seek your (and their) forgiveness in these moments. And oftentimes, just like I mistakenly feel unworthy of your love, my children can feel the same. Help me to encourage and assure them with the same unconditional love that you speak and show me. 

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, neither angels nor rulers, neither the present nor the future, nor powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Romans 8: 37–39

The Lord your God is with you,

the Mighty Warrior who saves.

He will take great delight in you;

in his love he will no longer rebuke you;

but will rejoice over you with singing. 

Zephaniah 3:17

 

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Jonathan Pitts

Jonathan Pitts is an author, speaker and the executive pastor at Church of the City in Franklin, Tennessee. He previously served as the executive director at the Urban Alternative, the national ministry of Dr. Tony Evans. Jonathan has co-authored two books alongside his late wife, Wynter Pitts. He is also President and co-founder of For Girls Like You Ministries, an equipping and resourcing ministry for tween girls and their parents. Jonathan is the father of four daughters and was blessed with fifteen intentional years of marriage to Wynter.

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