I have hurt people in my life. And people have hurt me. You have, too, and they have you; only many don't care to admit that.
I remember a day long ago, early in my mothering career, when my eldest child had broken some boundary, who knows what, and had needed a talking to. I recall her outrage, her temper - not so unlike my own outrage and tempers, actually. I had waited for her to calm down, waited until I heard the padding of little feet cross the floor to the kitchen, waited to hear what she would say or see what she would do.
Mothering was new to me, and I was discovering what it meant to be on the other side of rebuke, to be on the receiving end of an apology. I hope to never forget the way she looked at me and wrapped her arms around my neck; her perfectly vulnerable willingness to trust me was overwhelming.
What do you say to a child who is asking you to forgive her? How do you reassure her that you do? Our hands wrapped together as on a whim I led her to the trash can, throat choking with the emotion of a lifetime, unaware that at that very moment I had taken myself by the hand and was leading me to forgiveness.
"Here, I forgive you with all my heart. Now let's put the whole thing in the trash can and forget about it. Ok?"
A mirrored smile. And a phrase neither of us would ever forget.
Thank God that bin is so big.