The boys are getting older. In the past month or so, they really play together. They run around together, play hide and seek, chase, and wrestle. I love it. As a consequence of more together time, they also fight more. They hurt each other physically more. They need to forgive each other more.
I have a really concrete Forgiveness Plan in this house and it's usually when they make me angry. It goes like this:
Child: I'm really sorry, Mommy!
(and somethimes: I said I'm really sorry, Mommy!)
Me: I forgive you.
And I force myself to forgive them. Even when I'm still mad. Because that's what real forgiveness is. It's not just words. And it's hard. Really hard sometimes. Matty, the sensitive one, isn't usually okay with just an "I forgive you." There are frequently requests for smiles to affirm my forgiveness..."Please, Mommy, just smile at me!"...and almost always followed up with hugs and kisses.
This has been an interesting exercise for me. It's really hard to just stop being mad. But they have challenged me to dig deep and discover what it really feels like to forgive. I'm grateful for that.
In the past month, I have also needed forgiveness from a friend. In converations about something really important to both of us, we both let our emotions get in the way. We said hurtful things to each other. And, at the end, when it exploded, we talked it out. And we forgave each other. Because it's the right thing to do. Life is too short to make enemies. To harbor ill will. Even when we hurt each other and when we're hurt.
We can't say we believe in forgiveness if we don't practice it, right?
There's a really good book called Amish Grace. It's about the Amish that forgave the shooter who came into their schoolhouse and shot those children some years ago. The book affected me deeply. They were able to forgive a man who killed their children. I think they're right. I think we need to forgive even when it's hard. I pray to God that I never get the opportunity to test how forgiving I really am. And I pray that if I do, I pass the test!