Don’t Ignore–Forgive

This morning as I was driving my four-year-old daughter to preschool, she taught me a valuable life lesson.  Laura Marie was telling me about a boy who had said some mean things to her and some other girls.  In response, I pulled out the old time-worn parental adage, “When he says something mean to you, you can ignore him.”

She corrected me, “When he says something mean to me, I can forgive him.”

Wow.  I stand corrected.

Once a hurtful remark enters a person’s ears, it’s too late to ignore.  Usually when we say to ignore someone who is being mean, what we really mean is to not react.  Following this idea to its natural conclusion, it means to internalize cutting remarks, to pretend they don’t exist while in reality they boil and fester.

The solution to someone saying mean things is not to ignore them, but to forgive them.  To forgive an offense necessarily requires that we do not ignore an insult or criticism.  Once we’ve heard it, it’s really too late for that anyway.  At that point, it’s a matter of how we process it.  To ignore it means to let it pierce us to the heart while we perpetually deny that it affects us.  To forgive means to absorb the blow, then release the offender from guilt so we are not weighted down by bitterness.

Children who forgive mean comments show up at high school with strength and confidence.  Children who ignore mean comments show up at high school with guns and knives.

Let’s not teach our kids to ignore hurtful remarks.  After all—let’s be honest here—it didn’t work for us.  Instead, let’s teach them to forgive.  If we had been taught to forgive, we may have been released decades ago from some of the pain we still carry around—pain stemming from comments that we allegedly ignored.

Don’t ignore.  Instead, forgive.

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Published in: on November 6, 2013 at 9:26 am  Comments (1)