One of my daughters struggles with forgiving her sister. It happened just tonight. As their play escalates from playful to mean, one of them inevitably gets either their feelings or body hurt. (Most of the time it's both.) A quick sorry is not enough. Me getting angry at her sister is not enough. She wants justice and she wants the punishment to be more severe than the crime. Her claim is that she always gets punished more severely and her "woest me" attitude can push me right over the edge of sane parenting and send me hurtling to the "exasperated, frustrated and I can't believe I just said that" kind of parenting.
My Sunday school lesson for last week was on how to give extreme forgiveness. And I got to admit that some of the examples made me wonder who would give out THAT KIND of forgiveness. Oh yeah; Jesus did. When I watch my daughter who struggles to forgive (and I hate to admit it but she gets it from me), I try to remind her of the times we have forgiven her for something she did wrong. And then I remind her that God forgives us for all the mistakes we make, big or little, so who are we not to forgive others or hold grudges?
As I was teaching this lesson it came time to give an example of when I, the teacher, struggled to forgive someone. It was in the lesson plan and I'd planned on skipping right over it using the excuse there wasn't enough time to include it. But the Holy Spirit led me to share the struggle I've had for the past six months with a dear friend. I get the joy of teaching one of my daughters every Sunday and as I scanned the room while teaching, I see her nodding as I said I was hurt by this friend and how it was so hard to forgive her. Wow. She nodded right along as I spoke and she knew exactly who I was talking about (without knowing a single detail of what the disagreement or hurt was about) and I was struck by how perceptive my child, really every child is about what's going on in their home.
This is a simple lesson, "Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:13 It's the simple lessons that I need to be reminded of again and again however.