In kindergarten, emotions are raw. Fair and unfair reeeeally matter. And forgiveness is a key part of learning how to be a good friend and citizen in the classroom. Many kindergarteners haven’t yet learned how to master their impulses to hurt someone who hurt them or “get back” at that person in some way. It’s obvious when a student is hanging on to the hurt or unfairness of a situation rather than forgiving the other kid. The hurt child is the one who is angry, distracted, and not getting work done while the offender has moved on to other things. When a student decides to forgive, and let go of the hurt, they become productive citizens of the classroom again.
In the same way, when we “adults” hold on to the hurt that someone has done to us or stubbornly deny forgiveness to someone who has crossed us, we act more like spiritual kindergarteners. It’s like we carry around a sack of rocks that weighs us down and focuses all of our attention on the pain we are feeling rather than devoting our attention to worthier things. Jesus forgave us for all of our sins on the cross, and if we follow the reasoning of many a self-righteous judger, we should have to pay restitution first before Jesus forgives us.
But what can we possibly do to atone for our sins before Jesus allows for our forgiveness? Nothing; there’s no act large enough to prove that we are worthy of His forgiveness. If that were the case, none of us would ever be forgiven. We are charged to forgive others even if they have not “proven” their worthiness of forgiveness. Showing compassion and mercy through forgiveness, the same action that was shown to us by Jesus, allows us to be more spiritually mature and brings the kingdom of God closer to earth.
(Anna is a kindergarten teacher.)
Friends and members of our Christ Church family have prepared these daily reflections as a means for you to consider how forgiveness informs your faith walk during this holy season. They are a richly diverse group from many different geographies around our nation and globe, formed by a wide variety of traditions.