Recently, I have taken the opportunity to go and see the Year Six class a few times and speak to them about pastoral care issues like relationships, respect and growing up well. Sometimes, I’ve just spoken to boys and other times to the whole class.
Yesterday we had a poignant moment together. I was sensing that amongst them were broken relationships and working through forgiveness would be a good idea. Not wanting to dob anyone in or put them on the spot, I asked, “Girls, do you think there are people here whose relationships are not going too well and you need to be forgiven or be forgiving? Nod if you agree.” Heads were bobbing up and down all over the place. “Boys, what about you?” Similar bobbing but boyishly not as enthusiastic as the girls.
I led them through a prayer they repeated concerning being forgiven themselves and forgiving others. It was a strong moment. I then encouraged them that it may be relevant to have a follow up conversations to rebuild relationships. I believe when working with young people it is not so much about “one big moment!!”, but as the bible describes “line upon line ,precept upon precept, here a bit there a bit”...working towards what is ideal.
To my mind, forgiveness is the essential element for any relationship to be lasting or valid. We’re human and we will make mistakes, misunderstand, react poorly, and view situations through our own perspective. We tend to excuse our own mistakes and want justice/retribution for the mistakes of others, especially if we have been hurt.
The only way I’m aware of for overcoming roadblocks in relationships where someone has been hurt, is forgiveness. The forgiveness we need for our own actions and the forgiveness we need to extend to others. Jesus said this transaction was most essential for having a relationship with God.
Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive people when they’ve wronged you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men who have wronged you, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
How powerful is that! To God, it’s not a matter of how bad you’ve been, it’s a matter of how forgiving you are.
- Not weak, but strong
- Not about someone getting away with it, but both getting over it
- Realistic: you’re going to need to give forgiveness, so you better know how to practice it
- Growing through experiences not shrivelling up because of them
- Essential for our growing young people to learn to live successfully as adults
Mr Rod McNeill