It's a gorgeous sunny day so as the children tumble out of school we stay at the park to play. There is laughter and energy and running and all is well with the world. Then it happens - I see my son walking away with his head down. It is not a slow stride, it is one that he has when he is angry, but there is sadness coupled with it too. I call his name and he throws me a look over his shoulder - his face is set. I just need some time alone, he says, and walks purposefully to the trees, where dens and forts and places to hide are abundant. There is another voice from behind me shouting across to him "OK - I'm sorry!"
I look back to the play area. My son's friend has joined my younger daughter and her friend and they cross the monkey bars with glee and squeals. The friend looks every so often for my son and I breathe wondering whether to get involved or let them sort it out.
A few minutes pass, then the friend gets down and goes looking for my son. I watch as they speak to one another in the distance - the friend looks earnest and I know he apologises, then my son raises his hand in a stop gesture and turns his back and walks away. My heart sinks.
The friend returns to the park.
I let a few more minutes pass then I call my son to me and gently ask what's going on? He doesn't want to talk about it. I try again, and again he says he doesn't want to talk about it. I take a breath then say, I saw your friend coming to say sorry, to try and make it right. Can you not accept his apology and make friends?
Then come the words with the tears, flying like bullets, an angry torrent. He is mad because "everyone" tells him he's wrong even when he knows he is right! I take a sharp breath in at this brokeness before me. I understand the hurt of being undermined and having the wind knocked out of you by others who repeatedly disagree with what you say, or challenge you by expressing that they believe the opposite to be true. I keep calm and say I understand. I acknowledge his pain, and then I gently remind him that perhaps he expressed all of his anger that has built during the day and directed it towards one friend. I point out that this friend has tried to make it right, has humbled himself and apologized and asked forgiveness. Can he find it in his heart to forgive? The tears still come spilling and the anguished voice says "but its hard! It's hard to forgive when it still hurts!" It rattles me to the core. Isn't this the truth for us all - for me now? Simply the injustice of it all. And how do we keep forgiving and giving grace when it just isn't fair.
Looking at the broken heart of my son before me causes me to stop, and the brokenness of all this world hurts me. We start this lesson young. How do I explain this when I wrestle with this myself?
Isn't this the lesson we need to learn and live over and over again. In this broken world we forgive because we are forgiven. How can I accept grace if I can't give grace? What does living a grace filled life look and feel like? We forgive, because there is a liberating joy in knowing we are forgiven, that we are renewed and that the mess of it all can be turned to something good. It's simple - I need to be forgiven and receive grace therefore I give grace and forgive.
Click the link and spend 5 minutes reminding ourselves how to fight bitterness and learn to forgive.