Why is it so hard to forgive? First of all we have to be wronged in order to forgive. We don’t go around pre-forgiving someone for something that has not yet happened to us. Secondly, forgiving involves our emotions. When we have been wronged there are a whole mess of emotions that flood into our lives. Rarely is it simple and logical to forgive someone else.
Now, given that we as adults struggle with forgiving, how are we to instill this trait in our children?
Here is a tip. I have read that the trick to implementing the bold new vision for your organization or company is to keep it simple, keep it practical, keep it real. Same thing applies to instilling the trait of being a forgiving person into our kids.
There is a piece of art in our family room and right in the middle of it is “Forgive it frees the soul.” We may not realize that forgiveness, albeit important for the one we forgive, has a greater positive impact on us, the one offering forgiveness.
How then do we keep this simple, practical, and real for our kids? My kids get a lot of practice in the art of forgiving. Why? They have four siblings and they are human. In other words, there is always an opportunity to forgive.
The key for me is to not let something that seems like a non-issue in my book slide by and make sure that I use it as a chance to teach forgiveness. Sure taking a siblings coloring crayon that they were not using, but were just about to use is not the same thing as “she kicked me.” It still gives me an opportunity to teach. I can’t see into the heart of the child who feels slighted and it could very well be that they are really hurt by their sibling’s actions.
Therefore, I work with them on saying “I am sorry” and make sure that the words “I forgive you” are said in return. Where it gets tricky is when the “I’m sorry” comes out of the child’s mouth like they are cursing their sibling and the “I forgive you” is accompanied by a death stare. Hypothetically.
This trait is hard to teach, but it is even harder to live. Honestly, the best way for my kids to learn the importance of forgiveness is by watching me forgive. I have to be willing to forgive. I don’t have to forget because some things must never be forgotten. I do have to forgive and with time through prayer, the memory of the power of the offense will not be so strong. There is more to say about the need to repeatedly forgive because something someone else does triggers stuff from the past. However, I will leave you with this reminder. When it comes to forgiveness keep it simple, practical and real.
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