Tuesday, June 5, 2012

FHE 6/11: Forgiveness

This week's lesson is from the amazing talk on forgiveness by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, entitled "The Merciful Obtain Mercy."  I think everyone remembers this talk a little, because we ALL struggle with forgiveness in some way or another--whether holding grudges, judging others, gossiping, repenting, or forgiving ourselves.  I know I do, anyway.  So I'm grateful for the timely message that reiterates its importance, that reminds us that it's a simple thing (but not easy), and that we aren't alone in our quest to obey this important commandment.  Rereading it this week really brought a lot of peace to my own heart, and inspiration about what my next steps should be. 

  • On a scale of 1-10, how good am I at forgiving others?  At forgiving myself? 
  • What is keeping me from forgiving fully?  What can I do about it?  What can the LORD do about it?
  • "When we feel hurt, angry, or envious, it is quite easy to judge other people, often assigning dark motives to their actions in order to justify our own feelings of resentment."
  • "This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following: Stop it!"
  • "It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children."
  • "Because we all depend on the mercy of God, how can we deny to others any measure of the grace we so desperately desire for ourselves? My beloved brothers and sisters, should we not forgive as we wish to be forgiven?"
  • "Is this difficult to do? Yes, of course. Forgiving ourselves and others is not easy. In fact, for most of us it requires a major change in our attitude and way of thinking—even a change of heart. But there is good news. This “mighty change” of heart is exactly what the gospel of Jesus Christ is designed to bring into our lives. How is it done? Through the love of God."
  • "The more we allow the love of God to govern our minds and emotions—the more we allow our love for our Heavenly Father to swell within our hearts—the easier it is to love others with the pure love of Christ. As we open our hearts to the glowing dawn of the love of God, the darkness and cold of animosity and envy will eventually fade."
  • "My dear brothers and sisters, consider the following questions as a self-test:
    Do you harbor a grudge against someone else?
    Do you gossip, even when what you say may be true?
    Do you exclude, push away, or punish others because of something they have done?
    Do you secretly envy another?
    Do you wish to cause harm to someone?
    If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to apply the two-word sermon from earlier: stop it!"
  • "Help Me, Dear Father"
  • "Love One Another"
  • "Jesus Said Love Everyone"
  • Ask a class member to make a paper airplane, or make one yourself. Tape a coin, rock, or weight to one side of the airplane. Stand on the same side of the room as the class members, and ask a class member to throw the airplane gently toward the other side of the room. Next, pick up the airplane and remove the taped object. Have the class member throw the airplane again. After the class member has done so a few times, put the airplane away, and ask the following questions: How can just one small weight keep the plane from flying correctly? Explain that taping a weight to the wing of a paper airplane is like holding a grudge. When we refuse to forgive others, we carry around a weight that keeps us from traveling the straight and narrow path our Father in Heaven wants for us. It is important to forgive others so that we can enjoy the companionship of the Holy Spirit and grow spiritually.
  • Fill a bag or sack with five heavy objects (such as books or rocks) that have each been labeled with one of the following words: revenge, hurt, hate, resentment, and anger. Have each family member take a turn trying to carry this heavy load. Explain that carrying those feelings in our hearts is an even greater burden than carrying the heavy bag. When we really forgive, we forget all of these feelings and are free from the burden of carrying them.
  • There is a fun, life-sized board game idea (with printables, just click, print, cut and go!) about forgiving and forgetting HERE.
  • Sometimes Paul & I play a game when we get a little road-ragey where we try to imagine all the good reasons why that guy just cut us off, or why that person was driving so fast.  It's easier to forgive someone for the little things when you try to understand their reasons and point of view--even if you don't agree with what they did.  There's a game kinda like that for kid-friendly situations HERE.  I'd be really interested to hear the funny reasons kids come up with for doing the things they do sometimes!  :)
  • Prepare a simple obstacle course. Have each person try to get through it backwards. After everyone has had a turn, let them go through the same course looking forward. Discuss how looking forward is like forgiveness, because when we forgive, we can concentrate on our future and forget the hurts of our past.
  • Write down a few situations where someone might accidentally (or even on purpose) make someone else sad, and have family members act them out with a forgiving ending.  Practice makes perfect!
  • We just heard this story retold and reiterated in our Stake Conference (it's from 1983, from Bishop H. Burke Peterson).  Relate the story and his words yourself.  Discuss and have the kids act it out afterwards (especially if you have toy snakes anywhere!):
"For much of our lives, we lived in central Arizona. Some years ago a group of teenagers from the local high school went on an all-day picnic into the desert on the outskirts of Phoenix. As some of you know, the desert foliage is rather sparse—mostly mesquite, cat-claw, and palo verde trees, with a few cactus scattered here and there. In the heat of the summer, where there are thickets of this desert growth, you may also find rattlesnakes as unwelcome residents. These young people were picnicking and playing, and during their frolicking, one of the girls was bitten on the ankle by a rattlesnake. As is the case with such a bite, the rattler’s fangs released venom almost immediately into her bloodstream.

This very moment was a time of critical decision. They could immediately begin to extract the poison from her leg, or they could search out the snake and destroy it. Their decision made, the girl and her young friends pursued the snake. It slipped quickly into the undergrowth and avoided them for fifteen or twenty minutes. Finally, they found it, and rocks and stones soon avenged the infliction.
Then they remembered: their companion had been bitten! They became aware of her discomfort, as by now the venom had had time to move from the surface of the skin deep into the tissues of her foot and leg. Within another thirty minutes they were at the emergency room of the hospital. By then, the venom was well into its work of destruction.

A couple of days later I was informed of the incident and was asked by some young members of the Church to visit their friend in the hospital. As I entered her room, I saw a pathetic sight. Her foot and leg were elevated—swollen almost beyond recognition. The tissue in her limb had been destroyed by the poison, and a few days later it was found her leg would have to be amputated below the knee.
It was a senseless sacrifice, this price of revenge. How much better it would have been if, after the young woman had been bitten, there had been an extraction of the venom from the leg in a process known to all desert dwellers.

As I have said, there are those today who have been bitten—or offended, if you will—by others. What can be done? What will you do when hurt by another? The safe way, the sure way, the right way is to look inward and immediately start the cleansing process. The wise and the happy person removes first the impurities from within. The longer the poison of resentment and unforgiveness stays in a body, the greater and longer lasting is its destructive effect. As long as we blame others for our condition or circumstance and build a wall of self-justification around ourselves, our strength will diminish and our power and ability to rise above our situation will fade away. The poison of revenge, or of unforgiving thoughts or attitudes, unless removed, will destroy the soul in which it is harbored."

  • There's a coloring page called "Forgiveness Makes Us Happy" HERE, where kids get to draw on happy faces and color the kids.  There's one specifically about Joseph (of Egypt) forgiving his brothers HERE--you could summarize that story with pictures while they color.
  • There's a beautiful copy of a C. S. Lewis quote about forgiveness HERE (I'm sure you could print it off and frame it. :)
  • There's a file folder game about forgiveness (and some great scriptural examples) available for free download HERE.
  • I made a bookmark ('cause you can NEVER have too many of those :) with my favorite quote from President Uchtdorf's talk.  You can download it HERE.  :)  (It's a 4"x6" print, cut into two, as usual.)

  • There's a cute kids' handprint craft & poem (you could make it grown-up and fancy if you wanted) about "forgiving fingers" HERE.
  • You could stamp letters into metal brackets or washers for charms/pendants/bookmarks, like HERE.
  • If you're really artsy, it might be healing to try your hand at art centered around forgiveness.  Check out HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE for inspiration.  :)
  • Make S'mores in the microwave. "Don't just forgive....forgive s'more!" (Even 70x7)
  • Have 490 of something (mini marshmallows, M&Ms, pretzel sticks, grapes, anything small that you can have A LOT of).  Read Matthew 18:21-22 together and discuss how we aren't really supposed to keep track, it's just a way of saying A LOT, completely, forever.  :)
  • Make sugar cookie stop signs (or watermelon with "stop" written in fruit dip letters) and discuss the quote from President Uchtdorf about "stopping it."

1 comment:

  1. Such CUTE ideas on forgiveness! Thank you for taking the time in writing this all out!