“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” ? Martin Luther King Jr.
During a 4th grade workshop a girl shared about how she is tired of being bullied. The bullying had been going on since she was in kindergarten and she wanted it to stop. In front of her peers, she had the courage to ask for what she wanted. She believed that she deserved to be treated better. The entire room agreed to treat her with the respect she deserved and committed to stop the teasing and bullying. As this brave young girl spoke, another student began to cry. Assuming that this student might be experiencing the same, the facilitator invited him up to share. When he stood up, he looked at the class and confessed that he had been the main person bullying the young girl. With tears in his eyes and guilt on his heart, he apologized and asked for her forgiveness. With an open heart she accepted his apology, though this did not stop the boy from crying. When asked if he could forgive himself, he shook his head no. The facilitator asked the room if they forgave him and every hand went up in agreement. Once he saw the forgiveness in the room he was able to see that it was time to forgive himself. He committed to treating others and himself with kindness and care.
A new year is a chance for new beginnings. To start fresh by cleaning up any “messes” created. We all make messes. We all make mistakes. 2014 is an opportunity to move beyond any guilt, anger or frustration and move towards what we really want – to be cared for, heard, seen and to be treated with equal respect.
In Soul Shoppe we teach the “Clean up” tool for times when we make mistakes and want to apologize. The Clean up has five parts
1) I know that I . . . (insert action, i.e. called you a name, disrespected you, grabbed your pen, etc.)
2) I apologize.
3) What can I do to make it right? (wait for the response. This gives the person we hurt a chance to let us know what they need.)
4) Next time I will . . . (insert their request. i.e. …not call you names, respect you, ask before taking things.)
5) Will you forgive me? (Sometimes people aren’t ready to forgive. If this is the case, you can check to see if you can ask again later)
Clean up cards or posters are in classrooms, offices and posted on refrigerators – all the places they may be needed. Practicing this tool helps us let go of guilt or any separation we may feel with others. With busy lives, we move fast and can hurt people in ways we never meant to. Practice the Clean up tool on a regular basis to keep relationships healthy and open. Do you have any Clean ups you can do today?
Apologies and forgiveness are good for our hearts in more ways than one. Here’s an article from the Mayo Clinic on the benefits of forgiveness
Check out this podcast on the art of apology from KQED
Here’s to a new year full of kindness, compassion and forgiveness!