Adjusting Our Attitudes – When All Else Fails, Model an Apology

Believe it or not, I make mistakes. Moms sometimes make mistakes.

We can blame it on exhaustion, “hanger,” or stress, but we do mess up. And since we have young ones around a lot, we often mess up in front of them. Sometimes, the mess up wrongs them.

Some days are so rough that my only hope is to cling to that verse in Philippians. You know the one, And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (1:6, NLT). Because really, I hope this is not as good as I get! Can I get an amen!

Our attitudes are not perfect 100% of the time, but God keeps working.

Our words are not wise and kind every time we speak, but God never gives up.

Our hearts get crowded with garbage, but God redirects us.

​But God…

I love that phrase, “But God…” don’t you? You know what it says to me? It tells me I don’t have to do it all on my own. I’m not capable of changing for the good, but God! I lose patience quickly, but God!

We are all sinners, but God!

Since we “all sin and fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23, NLT), we must be ready to address the sin.

In other words, when we make mistakes and yell or throw a ‘tude toward our children, we need to be ready to apologize and model how to ask for forgiveness.

Our kids learn to be polite, socially functioning adults through us. And we’ve all met people who never apologize. How obnoxious! I know I don’t want that to be my kids!

So if we want our kids to learn to apologize, we need to show them how to do it.

I’ve mentioned King David a lot, but he is such a good example of a person who loved God whole-heartedly, but sinned majorly. I’ve written this before, but he committed adultery with a married woman and then had her husband killed to cover up the resulting pregnancy. Wrong on so many levels!

Psalm 51 is David’s prayer of forgiveness and apology to God. It is a wonderful model of how we should seek forgiveness from God when we sin, and from our kids when we wrong them.

“Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion…” (Psalm 51:1-3a, NLT).

There are some key phrases in this prayer that we should adopt when we model an apology.

First, David recognized he did something wrong. “I recognize my rebellion…” he said. We have to admit we are in the wrong when offering an apology or it doesn’t really mean anything, does it?

My children do this. They’ll say, “Sorry! But you hit me first!” It doesn’t really spell out remorse, right?

Second, you have to ask God, and your children, to forgive you. David said, “Wash me clean and purify me.” God is the one to do the cleansing, but our children can do the forgiving, or “cancelling of a debt or mistake.” When we are forgiven, the person releases the right to punish us. They let our mistake go.

Now, it’s a whole lot easier to forgive when we know the person is truly sorry and repentant. We must express true remorse or sorrow over our mistake, and then make an effort to stop the mistake from happening again.

In Psalm 51:12-13, David addressed this. He said, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you.”

The key to not sinning is to obey God. And if King David needed to pray for God to help him obey, I’m pretty sure I need to pray that too.

And that last sentence? Verse 13? It kind of cracks me up. David said he will teach God’s ways to rebels. Well isn’t that what us moms are doing?  🙂

When we apologize to our children, we are modeling the humble heart that God seeks. We are demonstrating that it’s okay to be wrong as long as we are willing to learn. 

We can’t do it on our own, but God…

Dear Father, Please forgive me when I mess up, especially when I sin against my children. Please give me the desire and the power to do what pleases you (Phil. 2:13). Help me to obey even when I’m tired or crabby. Give me wisdom as I model a humble heart for my children. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Kristen Johnson

Kristen is an "accidental farmer's wife" and stay-at-home mom of 3. Accidental, because it was never in her plan to "just" be a mom. But it was God's. Former English teacher now turned MOPS Coordinator and Speaker, Kristen now writes at nap-time, blogging about her silly kids and her farming adventures, as a mom Called by God. She lives in Minnesota on a farm with her family, dog and 5 cats.