The day my son was kicked out of church in front of the entire congregation is surely a day he will always remember, but the day the man who did it apologized in front of the entire congregation is a day he better not ever forget!
Our pastor was out of town that Sunday, not scheduled to return until the following week. During that week of waiting Tyler & I both experienced several emotions – anger, shock, sadness, & anxiety over how the leader of our church would respond. I’m going to be honest, I was disappointed that the deacons and elders of the church didn’t respond immediately to the situation and the fact that very few members of the church body appeared to be concerned about the matter was shocking. How does someone come into our church, send one of our youth out, and no one question this man? I was so thankful one man took the initiative and checked on my son moments later, but after the service – not one person addressed the matter. (*Later I learned a few families walked out.) Later that night we did receive a couple sincerely apologetic phone calls of support which meant a lot to us. But the question remained, “How is our pastor going to handle this?”
The next Sunday I went to church alone and within minutes had several sympathetic members of my church family express their concern for Tyler. Because the way the man had approached Tyler (unbeknownst to me) the majority of the church body were oblivious to what had occurred the Sunday prior. After service our pastor and I had an opportunity to speak in private. First and foremost our pastor felt Tyler, as well as our entire church, was due an apology from the man who expelled him from the sanctuary. In fact, he was so adamant about Tyler receiving a public apology, he insisted on apologizing if the man wouldn’t. Our pastor, who completely empathized with us, was very receptive to my thoughts and feelings. He told me he planned to address the matter with the man who caused this and would update me later in the week. More than just an apology or hashing out right from wrong, it was important to our pastor that there was restoration between not just Tyler and this man, but the entire church.
A few days later our pastor called me and asked if Tyler would be willing to accept an apology during service the upcoming Sunday. Honestly, neither one of us knew what that entailed, but were willing to trust the Lord in restoring what the devil had came to destroy. Can I just tell you how much we love our church? I mean, the whole congregation – they are awesome people! And our pastor – he is such a humble servant! We desperately wanted to continue fellowshipping and worshipping with these people, but something had to take place so that my son felt safe and welcome there.
Sunday came quickly and Tyler became very nervous as we pulled into the parking lot just in time to see the man who had sent him out of church walking in with his wife. Walking into church I was saw tears filling his eyes. We sat down and he was doing it – those nervous niches that only a mom would notice. He looked at me, red in the face, tears streaming down, and wept, “Mom, I can’t do this. I can’t get up there.”
My heart broke in a few more pieces. I knew there were no words of my own that would comfort him, but I knew God would. I hugged him and whispered his favorite verse to him,
“Tyler, you can! You can do all things through Christ. He will give you the strength. He will be your strength!”
A few minutes later our pastor stood up and addressed the church, asking Tyler to come forward. I whispered to him asking if he wanted me to go with him and he stood up with confidence and told me he could go alone. At that moment my son became more of a man. And what happened next showed him a different kind of manly confidence when the man who ordered him out approached the front, standing face-to-face with Tyler, and offered the most sincerely courageous apology I have ever witnessed.
“Tyler, I came to this church with a spirit of arrogance and I took it our on you and for that I owe you and your entire church an apology. I am sorry!”
A couple weeks prior and to that very moment, I was completely outraged with this man for his audacity. There I stood in complete awe of his repentance. Later I told Tyler, “Son, I am so proud of how brave you were to accept that man’s apology and forgive him. But I also never want you to forget this. I never want you to forget what a true apology is. That man owned every bit of his faults. Today God called you to accept the apology, there may be a day you are the one giving the apology.”