Once upon a time, Maggie went to kindergarten. That was a long time ago! We took her to school in the morning, but let her ride the bus home at the end of the day. When she got home she told us all about her first day, and her eventful ride home on the bus. She told us that a little boy in our town had punched her on the bus ride home. She wasn’t crying, she was just trying to figure out what happened. We went about our afternoon routine of homework, cooking dinner, and sharing stories of our day. At around 5:30 we heard a knock on our front door. When we answered, there stood THE little boy with his dad. It was quite a sight to see the dad holding the little boy by his ear as they stood on our front porch. They asked to speak to Maggie. The father then proceeded to say, “APOLOGIZE! APOLOGIZE!” Of course the little boy responded with a very quiet, “I’m sorry.” Maggie simply said, “That’s ok.” Fast forward 12 years and the two kids are good friends.
It is really important for us as parents to help our children understand when they have wronged someone to ask for forgiveness. That’s not what I want to focus on today. We need to teach our children to say the words, “I forgive you.” It does sound formal when we say it, but the words matter. For the person saying “I forgive you,” it helps them to hear, feel, and act on the emotion that caused them pain. And the person receiving forgiveness needs to hear the words so that they can move on and understand that they really are forgiven for the pain they caused someone. It is equally important that we help our children understand that we need to forgive even when the other person does not ask us to. This one is tough, but we need to help them understand it is what God calls us do to. And frankly, we feel better ourselves when we forgive!
As a family, talk about the people and actions that have hurt you recently. THIS IS NOT A GRIPE SESSION! Talk about your feelings, and how you can forgive these people. Find some bubbles in your house. Or make this recipe: 3 cups water, 1 cup dish soap, 1/2 cup light corn syrup. Go outside with your bubbles and your family. Think about the people you are forgiving. Blow some bubbles, release and forgive, release and forgive. Don’t take those bubbles or hurt feelings back. Keep talking as a family about forgiving others. And keep practicing saying the words, “I forgive you.”