When I was a kid, we didn’t have all the electronic games that children use now. We played outside a lot, creating games or playing those fun activities that we learned from older siblings. One such game is what we referred to as, “Got you last!” The object of this game is to tag someone and then run away from them as fast as possible while yelling, “Got you last!” The final person to be tagged, of course, is considered to be the loser… until they tag someone else As we mature and experience difficult situations with others, we still play a form of that childhood game. We get angry at a friend or family member and instead of letting go of the upsetting emotion; we hold it against them in bitterness—sometimes for years. And all that time, we think to ourselves, “Got you last!” But really, who ends up as the loser? Lack of forgiveness is something that damages so many lives, including our own. We think we have the right to hold an offense against someone because they did us wrong somehow. But this type of attitude really becomes a barrier to our own happiness in the sense that we become blocked by feelings of resentment. It also breaks down our fellowship with the Lord. He is the ultimate forgiver of wrongdoing, not us. But it seems like God has placed a natural instinct toward forgiveness and love in the hearts of young children. Adults can learn a lot about tolerance of others by studying the example of kids and re-learning these steps of childlike forgiveness:
- When you’ve been angry with someone, say you’re sorry. It seems that simply saying those words aloud helps in melting our hearts and opening us up to new possibilities.
- Hug, or shake hands, after discussing the object of your anger. A positive physical touch tends to bring about a renewed connection between people.
- Be honest about your feelings with the offending person. If you’re not straightforward about things, how will you ever learn from your mistakes?
- Let go of the offense and move on to another fun activity!