Monday, October 22, 2012

Gracious Forgiveness

Today at gymnastics class my two girls were playing with two other girls in "the pit" (a big hole in the floor filled with foam blocks used to help practice tumbling and bars). My rule is that they do not jump into the pit while there is another child in it so that no one accidentally lands on anyone else. They follow this rule, and while they were playing today Keira was patiently waiting on another girl to climb out and Brianna was holding the rope Keira was on to keep her from swinging. As Brianna accidentally let go of the rope Keira, unprepared, fell into the pit on the girl and hurt the girl's shoulder. Immediately, both of my girls ran over to her to make sure she was ok and to apologize for having hurt her, but instead of accepting the apology and going over to tell the coach that she was hurt, the girl and her friend started making the incident look very dramatic, shouting at the girls to "get back" and to "go get the coach NOW". My girls, unsure of how to handle how they were being spoken to burst into tears and ran to me.

I witnessed most of what happened, so I was somewhat prepared. My first irritation is that the girls were in the pit unsupervised, but I might just be a tad over protective. Next, I had the girls explain what happened and then told them that they should not have been on the rope until the other girl was out and that when there is a problem they need to go to the coach and not listen to another child barking orders at them. Last, I was heartbroken, because, I watched them try to apologize and instead of this girl saying, "I'm ok, thank you for apologizing" the two little girls ganged up on mine and accused them of plotting and hurting the girl on purpose. When the two other little girls came over, I took Keira again and had her apologize and then told the girls that she absolutely did not mean to hurt anyone and that it was a cruel accusation that really hurt Keira's feelings and that next time they should get the coach if there was a problem. Of course all I got was an angry glare and after I asked the girl if she thought she needed ice, and if her mother was there so that she could let her know she was hurt, they both huffed off. I did decide to go ahead and let the mother know that Keira had accidentally hurt the girl and had apologized. Mom seemed to shrug it off and we left.

When we got in the car I thought about what lessons to take from this. These girls had a record of being rude to my girls (who are no angels, but are genuinely kind and friendly so are quite shocked when it is not reciprocated) so I thought about how to handle bullies, or people who speak rudely to us, or safety around the pit...Then I decided it was time to talk about graciously accepting apologies.

The Bible tells us that when we are hurt by someone that we should forgive 70x7 times (Matthew 18:21-22). We are to continually forgive, and I believe we are not only to forgive, but we are to forgive graciously and completely. So, that is our lesson for today. When you accepted that apology from a friend who hurt you did you just "forgive"? Or did you graciously and completely forgive? I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who has graciously and completely forgiven me.

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