Saturday, June 19, 2010
This past week was our church's VBS, hence the reason that I have not posted until now. Never underestimate the ability of VBS to completely wear you out. Last night, I was asleep by 8:00. I didn't get up until 8:30 this morning and even then I had to will myself to leave my bed.
Our theme this year was Joseph's Journey and the stage was set in Egypt. On Thursday, the Bible point was "God gives us forgiveness." I was in charge of preschool games and we were supposed to be playing Leapfrog because it is an Egyptian past time. Preschoolers do not have the coordination to actually leapfrog over another, so we were going to leap over stuffed animals. The night before, I asked God to help me connect the game to the Bible point. God came through. I set up a row of 4 stuffed animals for the kids to hop over and one large one at the end of the line. I talked with the kids about how we feel when someone hurts us. They responded immediately -- mad, sad, bad. I asked them if they ever wanted to hurt the other person back and we called that revenge. We talked about how all those feelings were obstacles to being able to forgive our friends -- obstacles that we had to ask God to help us leap over so that we could run into the arms of God, into the arms of forgiveness.
The kids had a blast hopping over the obstacles and who knows if they really took away what I was trying to teach them. But I do know this -- seeing their faces as their teachers held up the large stuffed animals for them to hug showed me the power that love has to conquer all other obstacles. The smiles on the children's faces radiated pure joy as they leaped into the arms of something bigger than themselves. Right there, in a very tangible way, forgiveness felt good.
Time and time again, I have convinced myself that it feels better to hold onto my anger, that somehow it protects me from future hurts. I have held onto the disappointment because it made me feel superior to the person who has hurt me. I have held onto my sadness because wallowing in self-pity seemed to elicit a good amount of attention from others.
All of those lies, sugar-coated, to keep me from tasting the real goodness of God's love and His power to help me forgive. Knowing how short I fall everyday, knowing how desperately I seek His grace, knowing how lost I would be without His mercy, propel me over my hurt, disappointment, and anger, and into a space of forgiveness.
It's not as easy as playing leapfrog, unfortuntely. Many times, I speak forgiveness out loud, only to have those negative feelings creep up on me again. It becomes a process, especially when I have been deeply hurt, to not stay stagnant in those negative emotions, but to tap into that bottomless reserve of God's love for me and the person which has harmed me. To remind myself that I have forgiven -- choosing to love instead of hate, speaking wisely and not maliciously, reveling in freedom instead of remaining in chains -- keeps my heart and mind centered and at peace.
Posted by Jen Ferguson at Saturday, June 19, 2010