For When You Need to Say You’re Sorry

August 31, 2011 | 33 comments

Something always breaks when I’m in a hurry.

In the rush to clear the table, the water goblet shatters.

I run down the stairs, too hurried to even flip on a light, and that’s when I trip over the toy on the last step. The ankle snaps.  

In the hurry out the driveway, I skim the bumper of the car behind me, for I am too rushed to see it before it’s too late. 

And it happened yesterday: I treated life like a race against a clock.

She can’t find her tennis shoes anywhere, and the bus is now just one mile away. I snap, telling her she needs to be more responsible, and every hot word spills like a torrent of lava. Where is the grace in this?

When I treat life like a panicked race, I am a bull in a china shop. Something always breaks. This time, it was my daughter.

She is brimming with tears, and I am crammed with guilt. (And yes, we’ve both been here before. )

She slips on her sister’s one-size-too-small tennies, while the bus creaks to a stop. The bus door opens an accordian-mouth, swallowing up my teary child. She is the walking wounded.

By 10 a.m., I call a friend, and confess. She’s been there. She knows how mornings are hard, and sometimes they feel like a mom’s worst enemy.

All day, I rethink the morning. I pile on colossal if-onlys. And why is it that the clock runs the same speed all 24 hours, but in the morning it seems to tick double-time?

I treat life like it’s a race toward what? The mortal finish? It doesn’t make sense. Rushing is not my theology. My Savior didn’t run, he walked.

I make more promises, knowing I can’t really keep any of them on my own: 

1 — I will slow down, plan ahead, and stop the panicked approach to things like lost shoes.

2 — When I mess up, I will seek forgiveness through the only One who can make broken things whole.

3 — I will not burden myself with guilt, and rushing around trying to figure out how to do life right, but letting grace be my guide.  

4 — I also vow to acknowledge this: I will mess up again. I will break my promise. I will stand in need of forgiveness again. And I will need to start over with this four-point list because I am human and because I am in constant need of grace. 


It’s 3:15 p.m., and I’ve come to pick up the girls from school. The daughter in the too-small shoes says it first, when we’re outside the glass doors. “I’m so sorry, Mommy,” she says.

“I’m sorry, too,” I whisper, with gratitude spilling down my cheeks.

We hug, while backpacked children rush by and bump us. But nothing breaks, for we are stilled.

And this,
this moment,
this is my theology.

There He is right here, no kidding, in this child whom I embrace underneath an elementary-school flagpole.

by | August 31, 2011 | 33 comments


  1. Michelle DeRusha

    Oh Jennifer, I have a huge lump in my throat, and it’s because I know this all too well: the harried mornings, the snapping, the tears, the apologizing, the grace. Loving you for putting it all right out here.

    • dukeslee

      And thank you for standing beside me, and hearing me, and … for understanding. It is a bit scary to put it there, but I needed to. I even talked to Lydia about it this morning — how confessing my deep need for grace and for forgiveness felt right.

  2. Megan Willome

    I love this because I so identify (although my breaking point is after-school). What a gift that our kids are forgiving! Mine have taught me how to forgive.

  3. Randy

    Great story Jennifer! I had to say sorry too.

  4. Deidra

    So beautiful and transparent. Forgiveness and grace are so important in every part of our lives. I’m so glad He teaches us through our experiences with our own children.

  5. Duane Scott

    You remind me of my mother today, and these tears pooling in my eyes are a reminder of my love for her.

    Your daughter does and will forever feel the same. Even in the difficult teenage years to come, it’s there.

  6. David Rupert

    I have always been a quick apologizer. But here’s a twist, I have found that I’m taking on too much of the blame. I quickly put myself out there, absolving all others of their responsiblity. I’m looking for balance

  7. Jennifer

    Oh Jennifer… we have all been there in one way or another. I love your reminder that “My Savior didn’t run, he walked.” Yes… exactly! Thank you.

  8. floyd

    How many times have I been there… In the end, your daughter already knows your heart, she has your heart. It is a gift from God.

    Even the mistakes of life God can use to bring us closer, but only if we have the heart to hear His will.

    This was heart tearing for me, and spirit lifting all at the same time. Great job.

  9. Lisa M

    You spoke right to my heart today.


  10. Lisa

    A great reminder of many things.
    How often I have done the same- caused tears to flow in the eyes of little ones simply by hurrying and rushing about. And for what?
    The consequence of hurting little ones certainly far greater than a missed bus.
    Again- a great reminder. Thank you 😉

  11. Nancy

    It took me a long time to figure out that training our children in the way they should go isn’t really about training behavior. It’s about training them in repentance and forgiveness; it’s about training them to live the gospel. Which is exactly what you wrote about here.

  12. Laura

    Haven’t we all? Oh, my. Where would we be without grace?

    I’ve lived that long, long day, aching to say I’m sorry. And then He wipes it away and renews my heart. How does one live without that grace? I can’t imagine.

  13. Linda

    This was the sermon we heard this past weekend, and it went straight to my heart. You have said it even more eloquently Jennifer. This is who we are; this is who He is; this is grace.
    Thank you for sharing your heart – for it is so real and it is such a blessing.

  14. Nancy

    The words that went straight to my heart were these: “and every hot word spills like a torrent of lava.” I have spilled hot words and to imagine them as a “torrent of lava” on my children is difficult to think about. Lava destroys anything in it’s way. I am putting those words by some key locations in my home, locations where the “torrent of lava” threatens to attack most often. Thanks Jennifer for being real. You’ve blessed me again.

  15. Lyla Lindquist

    This keeps her heart open and soft.

    Yours too.

    Don’t stop doing it.

  16. Erin

    I have been here more times than I care to admit. I am trying to be much more careful with the words that I use with my toddler. He is so sensitive and any negative word hurts him. In a rush I try to breathe and slow down to avoid these situations, but I’m pretty far from mastering this. Thanks.

  17. Charity Singleton

    Oh, I break things too, break things when I rush and blow past the people around me. I love that you apologized, that you hugged, right there in front of the other kids, and your daughter just let you hold her. This was simply beautiful.

  18. Jennifer@Adam's Rib

    Your transparency here connects us mothers together. Sometimes I wonder just how much breaking can I do before I break the little ones for good, worry the grace between breakings isn’t enough to overcome what I’ve already done. This mothering to show Jesus when flesh keeps breaking through–it’s hard.

  19. Gage

    Sometimes I forget what a gift your writing is. Thank you.

  20. Becca

    This is beautiful – thanks for sharing! I just wanted to thank you also for praying for Caden and our family — it means so so much to us! 🙂

  21. Sheila Lagrand

    Oh, Jennifer.
    Our little exchange on facebook about brooms and power washers and Electroluxes and I don’t remember what all else we compared to grace….

    It means something more now. Much, much more. My kids are all in their 20s now. Those hurried mornings are memories.

    But all the same, God help me, sometimes I break them.

  22. Carey

    Oh how I’ve been there! Smaller size shoes and all. And the heartache afterwards when it all hits you…after you’ve put a tear stained child on the bus. Praise God for His Grace!

  23. Diana Trautwein

    Ah yes – finding Jesus in our children, right there by the flagpole. Sigh. Been there way too many times to count. And offered tears and apologies and heard the same.

    I do believe hurry is the biggest enemy of the Jesus journey. Yeah, sometimes urgency is necessary. But hurry?? Don’t think so. Even when the clock is bearing down on us like a living thing.

    LOVE these words, Jennifer. And the grace/humility/ mutual forgiveness/undying love which centers and holds and covers everything. Thank you.

  24. Lynda

    You nailed this one sissy! I can see myself in this scenerio so many times through the years with Payton. I have blamed myself and hurriedness for the blurr in my left eye. I pray I can “see” things more clearly very soon.

  25. Connie

    I don’t have children, but this post was special to me. However I have a niece whom I adore and this gives me great insight in dealing with her. Thanks for sharing.

  26. Mel @ Trailing After God

    Well said and an experience all moms go through! Such a good reminder to take it easy and remember to say I’m sorry. What an encouragement today! We start school next Tuesday. I know we’re going to have those days again. I hate thinking about it all day and knowing I started their school day off on the wrong foot. Thank goodness for grace!

    Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

  27. Joan

    Beautiful! Apologies can be difficult, but the benefits are far reaching. You and your daughter’s relationship will be strengthened because of both of your willingness to seek forgiveness and to forgive.

  28. Missie

    Forgiveness and asking for it is so hard, but it is suck a blessing

  29. Missie

    oops such not suck!

    • dukeslee


      You make me smile. Thanks for stopping Missie. xoxo

  30. Susan DiMickele

    I’d like to say I can’t relate. That I don’t know what you are talking about.

    But I do all too well! UGH! Thank God for grace.


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