Wednesday, February 23, 2011

To Err is Human, to Forgive is Divine

I’m in no hurry to have my sons grow up. There is still way to much for them to experience in childhood. There are Nerf wars yet to be fought and trees yet to be climbed. There are many seemingly endless summer nights of swimming and firefly catching to be had and lots of Lego sets that I still need an excuse to buy.

That said there are ways that my sons are growing up that I definitely enjoy the benefit of. Potty training is quite possibly one of the best things that ever happened to me. I like that they can communicate coherently to me what hurts them when something happens. I’m proud when they hold their own fish and release it back into the lake. While I miss reading to them regularly, the sight of the two of them sitting on the couch silently with books open on their laps warms my heart (and my six-year-old still mouthing the words as he reads is pretty cute).

But for all the ways they have grown up, they are far from being men. This is a good thing for now. No bills, no jobs, less complicated relationships, fewer worries. Manhood is something I have been trying to prepare them for on a daily basis, but I know they are far from grasping what adulthood really means.

Tonight, however, my eight-year-old will take a very important step toward becoming a man. Going to a Catholic school, he participates in the sacraments. Tonight will see him make his first Reconciliation. For those who are unsure, this is also known as Confession. You know the scene in those movies where the guy goes into the little booth and closes the door and tells the priest with the thick Irish brogue all the terrible things he’s done because he’s just met someone who makes him want to turn his life around? Yeah, that’s Reconciliation.

While my son has no murders on his conscience to confess (that I know of), this is still a very important event and I’m very proud of him for preparing for it seriously. He is going to stand before God, admit what he has done wrong and ask humbly for forgiveness. If that’s not being a man, I challenge you to tell me what is. (On a side note, I refer to manhood not because I am sexist but because biology has already determined that my sons will not grow up to be women. The positive attributes I discuss here are also part of being a strong, confident woman. Trust me, I looooove the ladies.)

Regardless of what you believe, whether or not there is a higher power or how exactly that higher power in manifested, there is still wrong and right. I have always been taught, and firmly believe, that a man, when he realizes he has done something wrong, recognizes his fault, admits it and asks for forgiveness from the appropriate source. At that point he has exposed himself to the will of that being to either forgive or hold a grudge. It is not for him to determine anything past that point. He merely sets himself at the foot of the wronged and leaves the ultimate decision in their hands.

This is obviously very hard to do. We all like to be right or at least not have anyone else know we are wrong. So when my son goes in and asks God for forgiveness today, I hope he understands the significance of what he is doing. And I hope he carries this through to the rest of his life. He can start by asking me for forgiveness for punching me in the groin that time when he was four. I can still feel it anytime I think about it.

I’m proud of you little man, and I love you.

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