Wednesday, February 15, 2017

School Yard Breakdowns and Grace

“I forgive you.” 

These powerful words came unprompted in a conversation while two students and I were responding to a conflict they had involved in that morning. Words spoken and actions carried out on the part of one student had devastated another. It was clearly a situation in which wisdom had not prevailed and tempers and a flair up of past wrongs not righted won out over restraint and better judgement. It drove a wedge between the two of them. 

After helping them to retrace the steps of the choices made, entirely on their own, these students seemed to feel the pressing need to extend and receive forgiveness. The day seemed to be a little brighter for them as they left my office because they could go back to way things are supposed to be. I sure wish I could promise them that they won’t face situations that will trip them up and in which they will be back again where they once were, caught in conflict. Everyday life will continue to remind them of the need for grace and forgiveness. 

When people wonder what personal and parental relationships look like here, I often use the phrase “we are not able to park sin out on Clarke Rd and hold it at a distance.” It affects all of what we do each and every day. Thankfully, so does God’s grace and love – a force much stronger. We realize the richness of that grace as a school when we dedicate ourselves to one of God’s good gifts – community. We collectively bring all of our hurts, hangups, and hiccups to one another and ask all to “… be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults.” (Ephesians 4:2) 

The flood of relief that students and adults feel when the harshness of conflict have been turned into the joy of living at peace with one another hints at the way we are hard-wired to live before the Lord. It feels right and good to be living in community that way because that’s the way we are created. When we find delight and pleasure in living honestly, authentically, and graciously with each other we do so because we experience the goodness of the coming kingdom. 

The other student’s response? “Thank you. I’ll try to do better.” 

Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth…. SJ

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