One day when my wife, Anne, was young, one of her siblings broke something that belonged to another child in the family. Tempers flared and angry words were exchanged. Anne’s mother, Joy, brought the kids together and patiently explained that accidents and mistakes happen and we shouldn’t let them make us get upset because family relationships are more important than material things.
Later that day, Joy learned a powerful lesson. The kids were playing happily together when, in the commotion, Joy’s prized beautiful blue plate crashed to the floor. This plate was a gift of love and appreciation from her husband. With tears streaming down her face and pain in her voice she gathered her children once again and shared her difficult lesson. It is so much easier, she confessed, to speak of forgiveness when it is someone else’s prized possession. The pain of the hurt or loss is real, and that is what makes choosing to forgive so powerful.
Later Joy’s husband glued the plate together as best as he could and hung it back on the wall. The Blue Plate became a family symbol of putting things in perspective, forgiveness, and love. When Joy passed away in 2012, the cherished Blue Plate was carefully preserved for future generations.
This simple but beautiful example of forgiveness is applicable to all of us, and is a concept we can teach our children through words and, even more powerfully, through our own actions.
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- Go sit in the food court at the mall or the park or any place near you where people gather and walk by.
- Eating an ice cream or doughnut while you’re there can make this even more fun.
- Take turns with your child picking out people and describing how you think they are feeling and how you can tell: that little boy is tired, I can tell by how he is whining and dragging his feet.