Friday, May 9, 2014

Object Lesson on Forgiveness

I have mentioned that we are in the process of adopting a daughter (or daughters) through the foster care system. I know I keep saying that I will write about it, but honestly right now I am in such emotional upheaval about it that I can't write it about it quite yet. As things become more certain I promise I will share our experiences. As we are going through the process I have been volunteering my time at a local christian, residential center for teenage girls in need. Most of these girls are from at-risk homes where they have been placed by the state in treatment as a sentence, are in the foster care system and no longer welcome in a foster home, some are teenage mothers with their own child in foster care and treatment is part of their program to get their child back, placed by parents that no longer how to work with their behaviors, and/or substance abuse, prostitution, and other trauma. I have to say that the work has been one of the most rewarding things I have done. Some ladies from my church go, make these teen girls dinner, do a short devotional as we eat dessert, and then do a fun activity: paint nails, play board games, decorate cards, knit,etc. If you are interested in helping at-risk children all most all cities have a residential home and I am sure would except volunteers just to spend time building relationships with them. 

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of doing the devotional. Earlier that week two of the girls got baptized. Despite that it was the day of their baptism they were holding on to past grievances, feeling angry at one another, and just in a real negative place interpersonally. I felt so sad that here was a day where they were symbolically putting to death their old self and being reborn and they were holding on to past hurts. Most of these girls had a lot of reasons to be angry at people in their life. However, that anger and resentment were only holding them back. I knew then I wanted to teach on forgiveness.

I started by reading them 2 Cor. 5:17-19:

 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God,who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation." 

So what does reconciliation even mean. According to the dictionary it means to reestablish a close relationship and to settle and resolve. How do we show the ministry of reconciliation? By forgiveness and grace. Forgiveness is to excuse for a fault or offense. It is to pardon them by renouncing anger and resentment. Grace, on the other hand, is to give kindness or favor even when a person doesn't deserve or earn it. I then read Ephesians 4:31-32:

"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."

Now on to the object lesson: 

Materials you need is a class of water and effervescent vitamin tablets (like airborne). Cut tablets into fourths.  I then asked the girls to think of someone they needed to forgive. Now these girls come from trauma, so I told them to think hard and only think of someone they are able to forgive at this moment in their life. If the hurt is too big and they think they can't forgive that person that is okay. Now we talked about how eventually they need to forgive so it doesn't hurt or have power of them, but do what they are emotionally capable of. Think of a hurt they can forgive. We talked about grace and forgiving even if they don't deserve it. Keep highlighting that forgiveness heals them and doesn't absolve the other persons behavior.
Once they have the person they are going to forgive they put the tablet in the water. At this time they can silently ask God to help them forgive the person they were thinking of. As the bubbles come off the tables imagine the hurt feelings going to God. 
The tablets take awhile to dissolve.  Use this illustration to talk about sometimes forgiveness takes awhile. It can be a long process to forgive. Lastly, once the water changes color we discussed how even though we forgave it doesn't mean the hurt didn't happen or affect our lives. It doesn't excuse the behavior but it allows God to change the pain and hurt into something else. 

1 comment:

  1. This is so cool! Thanks for all your doing and for sharing too!