So one of the reasons that I love spending all day with Middle School kids is because they are constantly reminding me about what really matters in life. A day doesn’t go by without me being inspired by their openness, their honesty, their awkwardness, or their desire to do the right thing. The learning that happens at this age is so pure, and I think it’s beautiful that they live their lives so eager to find their place in this world. I marvel at how innocent most of them are, and how accepting, and how easy it is for them to move on, and to learn from situations that we as adults seem to regularly struggle with. I don’t know at what point, or at what age that we start to lose this innocence…or when cynicism and sarcasm begin to creep into our grown up lives, but I have to say that for me, it’s super refreshing to spend eight hours a day surrounded by teenagers. Just this past week for example, I had my eyes and heart opened up by a thirteen year old to the importance of forgiveness, and to the realization that forgiving someone isn’t about doing something for them…it’s about doing something for yourself.
You see, there’s this boy in our Middle School who has been regularly picked on for most of his life for being “different” that the other boys in his grade. He’s effeminate, he doesn’t like sports, he loves to sing and dance, and he prides himself on being super stylish. As you can imagine, this doesn’t always get him the kind of attention that he wants from the other kids who are more concerned with fitting in than with sticking out. Being “different” in Middle School is not always a good thing for your social life as you know, and in many cases these type of kids don’t tend to look back at the Middle School years as the best years of their life but this kid simply doesn’t care. He is mature, self confident, and unashamed of who he is, and he inspires the hell out of me. He came into my office the other day for a chat (like he does from time to time) and we got talking about how he handles the kids that simply don’t understand him, and who go out of their way to remind him of how “different” he is from the rest of them. He told me that he forgives every one of them for their hurtful remarks and for their snickers and sneers, and that he understands that their ignorance has nothing to do with him, and everything to do with them. I told him that it was very mature of him to forgive them, and to let them off the hook so to speak for their mean spirited ways. It was then that he sat up straight, looked me in the eyes and said in a voice much older then his years, “Mr. Kerr, I’m not forgiving them for them, I’m forgiving them for me”.
He went on to talk about how he used to have all this anger and resentment and stress toward all the kids who picked on him, but he found that all that did was make him unhappy. When he decided to try another approach, and to let go of all that negative energy his life changed for the better. He started to accept who he was and even embrace it. He said by doing this he’s found that the number of kids who tease him has drastically reduced because they don’t get the reaction from him that they want. Now, he says, most of the kids leave him alone and strangely enough, he’s begun to gain their respect. I was floored by the wisdom that was spilling out from this “kid’s” mouth and I got thinking about myself, and my own approach to forgiveness. I started to think about some silly grudges that I was holding on to, and to the negative energy that comes with being angry at someone for something that they did to me…and you know what, he’s right…it simply isn’t worth it.
Forgiveness is difficult for many people because we want to punish the perpetrators for their wrong doings. But often times is has the opposite effect, and we end up only punishing ourselves. People make mistakes all the time…I certainly do, and if you can learn to let go and forgive like this amazing Middle Schooler then you might just find that your life will get a little bit happier. It’s funny how many life lessons you can learn just by hanging around teenagers, and it’s curious to me why some people find them immature and annoying. I guess they just aren’t paying close enough attention to the beauty and wisdom that comes from the struggle. If you really want to learn something about life, or if you want to be reminded of what’s really important in this world, then have a conversation with a Middle School kid…they’re guaranteed to inspire if you just give them a chance. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.
Quote of the Week…….
Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.
- Paul Boose
Interesting Articles on Forgiveness –
Upworthy link – (Not that we’re unaware of this)