Three Things to Remember When Talking to Middle Schoolers About Forgiveness
Let’s be honest: Forgiveness isn’t easy for any of us. Letting go of and moving on from hurts caused by others in our lives just doesn’t come naturally. That’s why we need God’s help to actually do it!
Forgiveness is a choice. It’s a decision you have to make, over and over and over again. No matter how you feel about the situation or action that’s caused you pain or the person behind it, if you want to move on and move forward, you have to put aside your feelings and make the choice to forgive. It’s important to remind students of the choice they have when it comes to forgiveness.
Keep in mind that while this is a difficult choice for so many of us to make, it’s especially challenging for middle schoolers. Why?
Because they don’t feel it. For middle schoolers, life is all about feelings. What they feel is real, and that’s the end of the story as far as they’re concerned. This makes forgiveness especially hard to offer in this phase because, as we all know, forgiveness isn’t dictated by your feelings. But regardless of their feelings, they can choose to hold onto their hurt and pain or they can choose to forgive.
Because they aren’t aware. A lot of times, middle schoolers are unaware of the way holding onto hurts is actually hurting them. They don’t see the way those grudges are causing them pain, or frustration, or anger. One of the best things we can do in communicating to students about forgiveness is to remind them that it’s really less about helping the other person and more about helping themselves!
Because they don’t see it modeled. We often learn by watching the behaviors that are modeled for us. Most middle schoolers don’t see healthy forgiveness actively modeled for them. They see their friends, their parents, their siblings, and even their church leaders hold grudges and act out of frustration. Go out of your way to model what true forgiveness looks like to set an example for your students to follow.