This week I became very aware of how empty words can be when they are not followed by action. This week Michelle and I had a difficult time with our daughter. She just turned five and you would think she is going on 15 with what we have been going through lately. (Not that there is anything wrong with 15 yr. olds!) I can see her growing up and maturing into a wonderful young lady, but with that comes growing pains. The push and pull of independence and surrender, the balance of being in control and letting go. At every turn, she was flexing her 5 yr old intellect, thinking she knows more than we do or that the rules don't apply to her. She was doing what she wanted, when she wanted, without asking, then when confronted would say "Sorry. I won't do that any more." Then two seconds later she was doing the same thing again, and when caught, another apology...then you will never guess what she did next...THE SAME THING AGAIN!! Followed by ANOTHER apology. AAAHHH!!! We were thinking, "Will this ever end!?!?" Then finally when it seemed we had that issue taken care of, another issue of the same kind would show up and the cycle would start all over again.
My amazing wife, who has such an incredible grasp on how to handle things, would tell Gabi every time she apologized, that saying "I'm sorry" doesn't fix the situation. "I'm sorry" means that you see what you did wrong and you will now change and go in the opposite direction. Brilliant! There are so many times I think that just by saying "Sorry!" it will make things all better. I did that with my parents when I was growing up, I did that when I was in school with my friends, I do it still today in my relationship with Michelle.
It became so clear to me as we were trying to teach Gabi this concept, that I have over used this simple phrase. I have always known that just saying "I'm sorry" doesn't fix things, yet I have used those words so often that they seem to have lost their meaning. If I say "I'm sorry" but then continue to do the thing I said I was sorry for, why even say it. If I am truly sorry for what I have done, my actions would be speaking for me. If our lives reflected the brokenness and sorrow we are trying to convey with our words, there would be no wondering if we really meant what we said.
As I think about my relationship with God, I am reminded how many times I have said to Him "I'm sorry." and kept doing all the same things. I am grateful that I serve a God who does not give up on us. He guides and directs and corrects us with love and kindness, and does not give us what we deserve.
Thankfully, we have come out on the other side of this with Gabi. As we have been patient, yet firm with her and let her know that we still love her, but that we don't like the way she has been acting, our relationship has grown. I'm sure we will go through this again sooner or later, but what I have realized is that I need to model this behavior for her. If I am not doing the things I am asking her to do, why would she change? I must live it out, not just talk it out.
I have seen myself this week in the face of my 5 year old. A wake up call to let my life reflect what my words are saying. Better yet, let my life speak for its self with out me having to use words.