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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter is…Forgiveness

My son taught me a lesson in forgiveness a few weeks ago. He’s 10.
I’ve alluded that things have been tough for our family. I have not given specifics. For many reasons.

I am ready to share one of the smaller issues. Which really, if I look at it by itself, it is nowhere near small. It is heartbreaking. But as an overall whole of what we are facing, it’s seems like a little thing. But trust me, as a mother, deep down I know it is not.

Back in late January I received a call from the vice principal of Sweet Boy’s school. I call my son Sweet Boy for a reason. If you met my kid, you’d know why. But when the V.P. calls it is never a good thing. He asked that I come in. I dropped what I was doing and went to the school immediately. It wasn’t what you might think. It wasn’t what I first thought.
Sometimes a life altering event has a domino affect to all other area’s of life. It can be a a happy rise or a devastating out of control spiral.

Sweet Boy had quit wearing his hooded jacket in early January. No amount of pleading was working. It was a daily battle. Even though we live in Arizona the desert can get cold at night in the winter. Not to the point of snow, but when an average temp is 110 degrees, 40 seems pretty chilly. I would walk him to the bus stop in the morning with him just wearing jeans, an undershirt, a long sleeve shirt, a beanie hat and mittens, but no coat. I would then watch as his nose would turn bright pink. The other mom’s would ask “Why isn’t he wearing a coat?” I could only shrug my shoulders. I thought it was a phrase, a response brought on by other things we were experiencing in our family. By late January the boy and I had a showdown throwdown. He was wearing a coat or else!!! He wore the coat. It was a Tuesday. On Thursday I got the call.

It would seem that a group of boys, 12 to be exact, had been taking turns grabbing Sweet Boy by the hood of his jacket and pulling it to the point where it would choke him. They would then pull him down to the ground and proceed to shove things like rocks, leaves, etc down his shirt and pants and various other things in his mouth. There was also constant verbal taunting. For weeks this was done out of the sight and hearing of the adult playground aids who had a tendency to cluster together in a circle talking instead of walking the grounds as they should have.

My son’s teacher came in and mentioned that she too had seen signs but had chalked it up to other things we were going through.
Things like my boy, who had previously been the first out the door for recess was now the last to reluctantly leave. Instead of heading to the playground he would go over to the special education area and ask if they needed help. Sometimes they did. If they didn’t he would go to his former kindergarten teacher and ask if she needed help. Sometimes she did. If she didn’t, his last hope, I would later learn, would be to go to the school counselor and ask if he could hang out with her in her office. If that didn’t happen he had to go to the bully zone otherwise known as the playground.
We all thought his behavior was related to other issues. Separately it was just Sweet Boy being sweet. But as a whole it now made a horrible sense.
Even harder was that I knew almost all of the 12 boys. Over the years I had given them art lessons and shared craft projects in the classroom. About half of the boys had been to our home on several occasions where they had played, shared meals and been treated with kindness.
The V.P. and I decided to handle it old school style and talk directly with the moms. It may surprise you or not, but half of the mom’s took the “Not my child” attitude. I know a battle not worth fighting when I see it and could only pray. The other half shared that things had been difficult in their own families…divorce, hard times, etc. We vowed to work together.
A few weeks ago, on a Saturday, I had to take darling daughter to the ER. Now it’s common knowledge that dads often take a different approach to parenting than moms. While I was at the ER Mr. Décor called to let me know he was taking Sweet Boy over to so and so's house to play. “No, he can’t go over there!” I shouted. “Can’t so and so come to our house?” I was in a panic. He was one of the 12. I needed to SUPERVISE!

Sweet Boy got on the phone. “Mom, we’ve worked it out. It’s fine.” My panic escalated. “It’s not fine!” I replied. To which he responded with “Mom, you talk to me about forgiveness all the time. I have forgiven him. Why can’t you?”

The kid was right.
Week after week, year after year I had talked a good game. Sibling disputes were often curbed by talking about how Jesus, who was without sin, had taken ours on the cross with Him so that we would be forgiven and never have to be separated from God. Forgiveness which we probably didn’t deserve.
Over and over I had preached if we don’t forgive, how can we expect to be forgiven?
Easter is about forgiveness. God doesn’t force the issue. He has given us free will to decide.
“Ecce Homo”~ Antonio Ciseri, 1880
Deciding to forgive and accepting eternal forgiveness . The choice is ours.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” ~ Ephesians 4:31-32 

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