Weight Lifting



In the following account, names have been changed in order to protect the innocent. My name has not been changed in order to expose the guilty.

Once, my 5-year-old son “Sid” and his 3-year-old companion “Horton” came excitedly into my room to share some news with me. After they finished relaying their message, “Sid” bolted out the door, sure that his brother would follow him like a shadow. As “Sid’ was exiting the room, in a stealth move, he reached back and flicked the door with his finger, turning it on its hinges just enough so that his brother’s forehead met the edge of the closing door as he followed his big brother out.

“Horton” hit the floor.

I hit the ceiling.

I took hold of “Sid’s” arm, put my angry face right up to his, and yelled at him for mistreating his brother.

“Sid’s” countenance, his posture, and his eyes all told me the same thing. My harsh words hurt him. I laid upon his heart the heavy weight of my offense.

“Horton” looked horrified. It was clear that he had no concern for anything his brother had done to him. He was hurt by my offense against the brother he loved. I had also burdened “Horton’s” heart with the weight of my wrong.

I knew I was guilty. And I felt badly. But I did nothing to lighten the load that both boys were now carrying.

The next morning I was in the kitchen preparing breakfast. 3-year- old “Horton” came in and sat on a bar stool next to me.

Horton:  “It wasn’t good what you did to Sid.”

I thought to myself, “That was yesterday, kid. Just let it go.”

Me: “What are you talking about?”

As if I didn’t know.

Horton: “When you grabbed him and yelled at him.”

Wow. He even mimicked the contorted, angry look on my face from yesterday.

Me: “Yeah. That was bad. I should have talked to him kindly about what he did, instead of yelling at him, right?”

Horton: “Yep. But you didn’t.”


Me: “What do you think I should do?”

Horton: “Apologize to him.”

Me: “You’re right, Horton.”

Immediately, “Horton” called to his brother, “SID, DAD WANTS TO APOLOGIZE TO YOU!”

In moments, a 5-year old boy stood before me, looking up at me with tender eyes. I confessed how I wronged him. I asked him if I made his heart feel bad. He nodded his head. I told him I was sorry for what I did, and I asked him to forgive me. We reconciled.

I could see that my confession lifted a great weight off of “Sid’s” little heart.

When I looked over at “Horton,” he was beaming, relieved of the weight I had just lifted from his shoulders.

I felt a lot lighter, too.

We all know we shouldn’t be throwing our weight around by offending others. But when we do, God calls us to be weight-lifters. By offering confession and seeking forgiveness, we can restore lightness to heavy hearts.

12 thoughts on “Weight Lifting

  1. We all need “Hortons” in our lives, don’t we. Truth-speakers who tell us what we need to hear (gently) and love us while they say it. And they tell us this stuff because they love other people too. Their words aren’t motivated by “Caught you in the act!” maliciousness — no. They want to restore healthy relationship. Here’s to Hortons, one and all.

    • Yes, God spoke wisdom to me through a little child, and receiving my 3-year-old’s counsel resulted in restored relationships. And good point. Spiritual health and fitness requires regular weight-lifting 🙂

  2. Thankful for you sharing such a vulnerable story. I admit that I worry about doing things like this as a parent. I worry that I won’t get to apologize for my actions before they take root in the heart of my children. My parents also lived out apologizing to us and it spoke volumes. I hope that, when times like this come, I’ll be strong enough to follow God’s promptings (from my “Horton” or someone else) and be the good example to my children that my parents and you are to yours.

    • I am confident that growing up in an atmosphere of repentance and forgiveness–as modeled by your parents–has been a heart-shaping experience for you. God has been preparing you for parenthood since your childhood! 🙂

  3. Excellent lesson, Dave. I had a similar experience over a glass of spilled milk. Wish I had read this column in 1969.

  4. Dave, I love your transparency and humility through this story. Oh, how many times I’ve done that to our boys. I’m getting better, but those angry words and tones still slip out sometimes. Being a weight-lifter is one of the best ways we can teach our children, yes?

    • Jeanne, my younger children have a more mature father than my older ones did. As a young Dad, I often felt like Moses, judging disputes from morning til evening. In my irritation, I had a tendency to try to short-cut discipline, and I ended up short-changing relationships. Relationships take time. And now that I am older and a little wiser, I take time for relationships, interacting more calmly and with more understanding.
      But when I do weigh down my kids’ hearts with my offenses–in what I say or how I say it–weight-lifting is “one of the best ways [I] can teach [my] children.” Agreed. 🙂

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