Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The One Where I Learn About Forgiveness From A Four-Year Old

The Episode

She's only four years old. I should have seen it coming. It may seem like small potatoes to you, but the lesson I learned from my four-year old granddaughter, a few short days ago, will stay with me for a lifetime.

We had set up a play date with Ashton's cousin Ted. She had been asking for a while to get together with him, so I set up the date with my sister-in-law, Ted's "Nana". We had originally planned to visit the local cider mill, but the weather was really icky. Instead, we would go to McDonald's (or "O'Donald's", as Ash likes to call it), and then we would come back to Gigi's house to play. "Gigi" would be me.

Ashton knew the plan full well.

We arrived at O'Donalds, got our lunch, and went into the playroom. You know the kind. The one with the HUGE play scape and only one way out. The little darlings have to pass right by you to get out the door. Ash and Ted had a wonderful time, except for one minor altercation, when Ted found himself another "Princess" to play with. Silly boy, who doesn't know that there can only be ONE Princess! 

Gigi and Nana had a wonderful time too, chatting and catching up on our lives. Gigi and Nana had SUCH a wonderful time, that when Nana's phone rang, THREE HOURS LATER, with Ted's daddy asking where in the bajeebers we were, there went the plan to go back to Gigi's house and play. 

Saying our goodbye's in the parking lot of O'Donalds was Ashton's first clue that things were not aright. The goodbye's were a little too final for her liking. She was catching on. No sooner did I pull out on the road, when she asked the fatal question. "Are we going to your house to play?" When I explained that we ran out of time, that Ted's Dad was waiting for him, and that no, we weren't going back to my house to play with Ted....all Hades broke loose in the back seat of my Mustang. 

It was already late in the afternoon, so I was on my way to drop her off at home. She didn't catch on to that until I was two blocks from her house. When I turned the car onto her street, she made her first display of disappointment look like a walk in the park. She wanted to go to Gigi's house, not home. I'm telling you, one would think I was taking her, well, I don't know where, but it was BAD!!! She promised to be good. She promised to let me get some things done around the house. She promised that she would play by herself until I did my chores. She promised the world. Just so she could come back to my house. Mind you, by now, we were about ten houses away from her house. I called her Mama who said to just bring her home, a lesson needed to be learned, and that's that.

My heart was broken. Shattered. Into one million, gazillion pieces. I was sick to my stomach. I had let this precious one down. In her mind, Gigi had totally broken a promise. And that killed me. She was still a little upset when I left her at home, but a little upset doesn't even begin to describe me for the rest of the night. Ask my husband. I was sick over the whole ordeal. I just wanted to go to bed and not have to think about it. I was devastated that I had let her down. It was Thursday evening.

Fast forward to Sunday morning. I hadn't seen Ashton since "The Episode". As usual, I didn't see her before the church service. We were dismissed from the sanctuary, and like every other Sunday morning, I stood in the middle of the foyer, waiting for my husband to pick Ash up from Sunday school. 

She appeared. At the top of the stairs. With a smile as big as the moon, her arms outstretched, and a loud "GIGI"!!, she ran into my waiting arms. We hugged and I almost squeezed the life out of that little body. 

I was so obviously forgiven that it took my breath away.  

The Lesson

 "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18: 3)

When someone breaks our heart, when someone breaks a promise, when someone lets us down, do we, as adults, forgive like that? This isn't about forgive and forget, mind you. I'm sure that if you asked Ashton about "The Episode", she remembers it well. But her little child's heart allowed her love for her Gigi to leave the hurt in the past, and forgive me. It allowed her to run to me and throw her arms around me and love me anyway. Oh, how we need to learn forgiveness like that!

"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him." (Luke 15: 20)  

Isn't this just like our Heavenly Father? How many times have we let Him down? How many times have we broken our promises to Him? How many times has He seen us coming from a long way off, opened His arms wide, and welcomed us home in total forgiveness? 

"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (Colossians 3: 13) 

"Forgive as the Lord forgave you". How did He forgive you? Graciously and freely! We are commanded to forgive in just that same way. 

Like a little child. Like our Heavenly Father. 

So forgiven and forGIVING, that it takes breath away. 

If you haven't sinned or been forgiven much, then this isn't for you. However, if you, like me, have been forgiven much, you will love much and forgive, graciously and freely. 

You're going to love this. After church on Sunday, we had breakfast and made our weekly trip to Starbucks for coffee. On a chilly autumn day, the Fourth of July far behind us, saying our goodbyes outside, the little darling looked at me and gave me her parting words.

"Gigi, tomorrow you'll take me to see fireworks!"



Linking with:
Ann at A Holy Experience 
Emily at imperfect prose on thursdays 
Tell Me A Story 
Wisdom Wednesday 

Thursday Favorite Things


  1. Oh Donna, what to even say? Our hearts become so hardened over time, and it seems as if we let God soften our hearts in areas and block Him off from others. Oh to have this heart of a child! I believe it is absolutely attainable ... and with God certainly it is. I think reminders like these are the things that encourage us all on that journey. Thank you!

  2. Oh! We can learn so much from these little ones. They are just such an example to us sometimes.

  3. What a delightful story. I too have a little four year old granddaughter who sounds just like Ashton. I can relate to all your feelings, especially forgiveness learned from a little one. Their hearts are so pure!

  4. Yours is such a touching story of the simple way of a child to love and forgive. I know God forgives my stubborness, but thank you for the reminder to obey and stop the things that hurt the heart of God. Thank you for sharing at Tell me a Story!!

  5. Truly, the best lessons are sometimes learned from the mouth of babes.

  6. really appreciated this story. that ashton sounds like one very special little girl!

  7. my little ones take my breath away sometimes with how quick they are to forgive. let us love like that!

  8. I really wish I had the ability to move-on that a four-year-old has. I admire it so much! Thanks for sharing such a precious memory.

  9. Children do forgive way more than we give them credit for. Yes, like little children...

  10. such a touching story of the forgiveness, the innocence of a small one. such a picture of Jesus for us.

    wow, sister. this is beautiful and real. visiting from emily's today, and i'm so very glad i did!

  11. Oh how forgiving our little ones are! It truly is beautiful! I have received the same type of forgiveness time and time again over the last 9 yrs as a Mom. Thank you for sharing and linking up at Simply Helping Him! Blessings!