Forgiving is Hard

By:  Staci Stallings

One of the most difficult things about being a mom is walking your children through life’s really tough lessons.  You can be floating along just fine, never even seeing the storm clouds gathering, when suddenly you’re caught in a maelstrom.

That’s what happened the other day with my son.  Now he’s eight and very soft-hearted.  He makes it a point to be nice to everyone (other than, of course, his two sisters).  He takes things in very deeply.  No surface living for him!

He’s also highly creative and he wants to be acknowledged for the good ideas he comes up with.  Sometimes that’s a challenge in second grade.  Okay, it doesn’t get any easier after second grade either, but we’ll deal with that later.

So the other day he gets in the van after school.  I asked how his day was, and he said, “Bad.”  Now he has “April Fooled” me numerous times coming back with “not really it was great!”  But not this time.  No, this time, bad went from bad to really bad to absolutely horrible in a matter of a heartbeat.

“Mom, Anna* stole my idea!” (*not her real name)

“What do you mean she stole your idea?”

“I had this idea to make a big card for one of the teachers from the whole class, and she stole my idea.  She told the teacher about it, and the teacher was all happy and excited and saying what a good kid she was.  It wasn’t her idea!  It was MINE!”

By now big crocodile tears were rolling down his little cheeks.

“Well, maybe she didn’t mean to steal it.  Maybe she just thought it was a good idea.”

“Then why didn’t she say it was mine.  She just let them think it was hers.”  He folded his arms.  “I’m not going to sign that big card.  It’s not fair!  I’m going to just make my own and see how they like that.”

“Now, sweetheart, I realize you’re upset…”

“And next time I’m going to steal one of her ideas and not tell anybody it was hers.  Then she can see how this feels.  I bet she won’t like it very much.”

You really can’t make this stuff up, you know?

“Listen, I don’t know why she did it, but think about it this way, the teacher really liked your idea even if she was the one that said it.”

“Yeah, but they think it was hers, and they’re all, ‘Oh, that’s such a great idea.  You’re so smart.’  I bet she’d be mad too if I took her idea like that and didn’t tell anybody. I’m going to do that to her and see how she likes it.”

That’s when I realized he was really going to need some help getting through this.  It wasn’t just a thing he was going to get through.  He wouldn’t forget it in five minutes.  This was real to him.  He was angry and hurt, and carrying that around wasn’t going to do anyone any good.

So, I said, “I think you’re going to have to try to forgive her.”

“Forgive her?  Mom!  She doesn’t deserve to be forgiven!  Besides I want to get even with her.  I want her to feel like I do right now.”

“I know, but that’s not good for you.  That is just going to make you mad and miserable.  It’s not going to change what happened at school.”

“But it’s not fair, Mom.  That was my idea and no one even knows that!”

“I know, and I don’t know why she took your idea without telling anyone.  Maybe she just thought it was a good idea and mentioned it.  Maybe she didn’t mean to steal it, it just happened.”

“Well, I’m still mad at her.”

“I know.  But I think maybe you should think about trying to forgive her–even if she doesn’t deserve it.  You know, we’ve talked about forgiveness at home.  When you say you’re sorry or they say they’re sorry.”

“But she didn’t even say she was sorry.  I don’t even think she is.”

“You’re probably right, maybe she isn’t even sorry, but that doesn’t mean you can stay mad.  It’s still important to forgive her… for you.”

“But, Mom.  Forgiving is hard!  I don’t want to forgive her.  I want to be mad at her.”

“I know.  Forgiving is hard.  That’s why a lot of the time we have to ask God to help us to forgive because if it was up to us, we’d just stay mad all the time.  But that doesn’t fix anything.  It just makes us sad and mad and hurt.  That’s no fun.  But God will help you to forgive her even though it’s hard.”

About this time the tears stopped, and I could see peace come over him.

“Just think about it,” I said.

You know, forgiving is hard.  And the worse whatever the other person did, the harder it is to forgive.  But when it’s right and you know it’s right but it’s hard, that’s when you know you need God.  God is there to help you and guide you through those rough patches when you really don’t want to do the right thing, when doing the wrong thing sure sounds easier and more logical.

But God’s logical will help you find real peace.  The other is just a long road of misery.

By the time we got home that night, my son was in much better spirits and the next day he not only signed the big card, he included his little card with it.  So maybe he learned a good lesson.  I know I did.

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