This morning my wife made a comment that hurt me deeply. A little later she repeated the same comment. When I told her that her comment caused me pain, she immediately apologized, saying that she was only "kidding." For a while we didn't say much to each other, and as I thought about the interaction in an objective way and prayed about it, it dawned on me that my wife had quickly apologized for the pain she had caused me and that the words "I'm sorry" do not come easy for her. I realized that something had changed in our relationship and that the change was for the better. My wife had not intended to hurt me with her remark, and I probably took what she said too seriously.
As I was growing up, my father teased me constantly, and the more he realized that his teasing hurt me or made me angry, the more persistent he was. That teasing has poisoned our relationship for my entire life, and to this day, I am not close to my father. My father treated his two grandsons in the same way, and neither of them have ever wanted to spend much time with him because of it. As I analyzed why my wife's innocuous tease had provoked such a strong reaction in me, I understood that my reaction to my wife's remark grew out of the pain my father's treatment had caused me, and that I was overreacting to her comment.
As an adult, I know that my father's behavior toward his sons and grandsons must stem from some behavior on the part of someone in his own family during his formative years. As I considered my conversation with my wife over the incident this morning, I thought about how relationships between parents and children affect their offspring for generations, how hurtful behaviors are passed down from one generation to the next. I prayed that my own relationships with my son and daughter were more loving, that I treated them with more kindness and respect, than I had experienced in my relationship with my father. May my heart be filled with compassion, respect, and love for all those around me, and may I be quick to forgive those who have wronged me.