I Should Have Been Kinder

"And be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you."  Ephesians 4:32

This morning, I read an editorial in USA Today that took me back 30 years in time. 

After my dad had been gone for several years, my mom (who had been brutal to him when he was alive) once said to me: "You know, looking back, I should have been kinder to your dad." 

Frankly, I was a little shocked to hear her say this. 

She had been so mean, critical and impatient with my father when I was growing up, that even as a child, I often hurt for him. There was nothing I could do to stop her. 

She was relentless when she would tear into him or sarcastically criticize. My dad was not a highly educated man and could not keep up with my mom verbally, so he was reduced to standing there sheepishly while she berated him, embarrassed him, and belittled him. And this was pretty much an everyday occurrence. My mom was not a follower of Christ at the time, so there was no conviction of her behavior.   Looking back, I believe my dad was doing the very best he knew how to try and meet my mom's expectations. It was just that he never could. Nor could I. Nor could my brother. Her expectations were so unreasonable that she was the only person who was capable of meeting them. And when she inevitably fell short, it was never her fault. 

It was this total lack of honesty with herself that allowed her to maintain her self-righteousness and to be so massively hard on all of us. My mom's admission about being kinder to my dad was laudable, I suppose, but it was way too late to make up for all the damage she had done to my dad--as well as to my brother and me.  Only when I came into a personal relationship with Jesus could I forgive my mother and heal from the hurt. 

After we come to Christ and we realize the depths of our own imperfections, we are grateful to a spouse and to family members, who tolerate our behavior and love us anyway. 

When we fail to see these sinful flaws we often find constant fault with those close to us. This is when we need to pray and seek the Lord to show us the "planks" in our own lives. 

My prayer is that as followers of Christ the Holy Spirit will make us keenly aware of this behavior--for the sake of everyone around us--who love us in spite of ourselves. 

"And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." Matthew 7:3-5