Written By: Mary Martinez

It was the morning of my oldest son’s first Karate tournament. He was beaming with excitement. He had been preparing and anxiously waiting for this day for months. If I would have let him he would have slept in his uniform the night before. 

I had planned to arrive at the tournament early to give us a little wiggle room since it was in the next town, 30 miles away. As the morning progressed and we finally got loaded to leave, however, I realized we were cutting the time short and we would get there just in time. 

As we walked into the building we could hear activities already going on. With further inspection, the tournament had started. His fellow students were right in the middle of performing one of their pattern movements. My heart sank. I checked my phone, one o’clock. We were on time. Or.. wait.. did I get the time wrong? The invitation said one o’ clock. I swear it said one o’clock. My son’s look of excitement soon turned to worry. I asked a parent standing near the back entrance, “What time were we supposed to be here?” “12:30,” they said with confidence. How did I miss this? Am I the only one that missed this? My son was now in a panic. I tried to calm him down and have him quietly go to his place on the floor. But he was quite nervous, he knew he would have to wait for his instructor to bow him in and he didn’t want to make a scene. Despite his hesitation I was able to persuade him to go and thankfully his instructor bowed him in. 

After he had gotten to his spot I sat down beside another parent and asked them if they had gotten a handout with the time on it. They proceeded to say that it was on the registration form that we had turned in two weeks prior, students had to be there at 12:30 to participate. How did I not see this? I was usually so good at making sure to write things down in my planner. Mom guilt rushed over me and I could feel my body physically get warmer. How could I let my son down? This was the biggest day in my 8 year old’s life, something he had been preparing for the entire year long and I totally screwed it up. Yes, it could have been worse and I could have missed the day completely, but I still felt terrible. 

Despite being late, my son was allowed to participate in the tournament, but I still couldn’t shake the feelings of guilt. I was sick to my stomach, crushed that I had set his day off to such a rocky start. The words “What if” kept playing in my mind over and over again.  What if we had gotten there on time? What if he had been able to warm up? Would he have done better? What if I hadn’t missed those little printed words, be there at 12:30? What if.. 

What do you do when you fail your children? When you let them down? When you make a mistake that directly affects them? That affects their dreams?  When you think you have it all together, then boom, it all comes crashing down? 

Here is the flat out truth: We ALL make mistakes, no human will ever be perfect this side of heaven. We are human, and humans make mistakes. The best we can do is to admit to our children when we fail, apologize, and ask for forgiveness. We must teach them through our actions that it’s okay to admit when we do something wrong, to rise above our pride and just say, “Yes, I messed up.” Let’s be real, our children will have to face many disappointments throughout their lives, because life is full of disappointments. As parents, we are charged with helping them navigate these difficult times.  We must encourage them to keep moving forward. 

When they make a mistake or let us down, we forgive them graciously. Not that they won’t have to face consequences for their actions, but loving them through those moments of learning and growth. We must show them Christ like love even though we know that they will fail at times and make mistakes. 

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1 

Later that evening when we got home from the tournament I took my son aside and I held his hands, looked him straight in the eyes and said, “I’m sorry I let you down today, I messed up,  missed the time and got you there late. Please forgive me.” He gave me a big hug and said, “It’s okay mom, I forgive you.” He smiled and then ran off to play with his brothers. His ability to forgive and move on so quickly filled my heart with peace and eased my lingering guilt. My sweet boy chose to look at the positives of the day (he won 3rd place in his pattern movement and only lost by one point in his sparring match), and to graciously forgive and love his mama despite my mistake. 

As I laid in bed that night reflecting on the day I was reminded of God’s mercy and love for us. He wants us to come to His alter, admit our sins, and surrender to Him. He longs to set us free from our shame, guilt, and past mistakes.  He already knows our sins, but by admitting and laying them down, it gives God full access to our hearts. This in turn allows him to humble us, mold us, and raise us up. What amazing love He has for us, love so undeserved.  He gives us unrestricted love and never ending forgiveness because that is who he is, a God of mercy. He knows that we will fail, we will make mistakes, and we will disappoint Him. He knew this from the beginning and so He made a plan.  He sent Jesus, to take our place at judgment and to pay our price because we are merely human and humans need a savior. 

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3: 22-23

Weekly Challenge:

Have you let your children down, lost your temper, disappointed them in some way, or maybe it’s a friend or spouse? It’s never easy to admit when we have made a mistake and to ask for forgiveness, but there is freedom in taking responsibility for our actions and admitting our faults.  

Read: 1 John 1:9 and James 5:16

Or is there someone that has wronged you and you’ve been holding on to bitterness, not forgiving them? It’s time to surrender them over to Jesus and be free from the pain and hurt you’ve been holding onto.

Read: Colossians 3:13 and Mark 11:25

Listen to “Great is Thy Faithfulness” sung by One Sonic Society and Mike Weaver: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxy-HSy01_w

Written By: Mary Martinez