How has this month’s value, Justice and Mercy, been going for you all?
I started out this month completely overwhelmed and clueless as to how to teach this value. I also had a hard time believing that this was as necessary as “honesty” or “love”.
I realized right away that I was wrong.
Just in my own everyday life, it seems as if I have been bombarded with opportunities to practice justice and mercy–pretty much on a daily basis. I think before I just didn’t notice how many times during our day we are confronted with situations in which we have a choice to practice either justice and mercy or judgement, harshness, and holding grudges.
I have also noticed a few simple things that have really helped us with this month’s value in our family. Most important, I have noticed that once again (I think I say this every month, but it rings as true as it did the first time I said it) my example is one of the best teachers of all. How quickly I can be fair, merciful, and forgiving is directly reflected in the way my children do those things. And the pendulum swings the other way also. When I am quick to anger, judge, or slow to forgive, my children follow my lead. Knowing this has made it much easier to increase my awareness of what I am doing on a day-to-day basis.
One of the activities we have done so far is getting a jar of water and putting drops of red in it. The drops of red represent things like judging others, holding a grudge, not being fair or taking turns, etc. (It’s a good idea to have a few drops, but if you put too many in, then the next step is a lot trickier.) After the jar was visibly redder, we talked about how not forgiving others, holding judgements, trying to get even, or any kind of bad feelings inside can affect all of us as a whole. Just one little drop (not forgiving someone who hurt your feelings, for example) can make you feel bad all over and affect everything in your life.
After we all understood that concept a little better, I then put some bleach in the water and explained that when we forgive someone or practice mercy and compassion instead, those bad feelings can completely disappear and we are left once again with good feelings (clean water). I liked making the water clean again in the end–I think it helped sum up the point that it’s never too late to forgive or right a wrong, and also how quickly you can feel good inside again. (I think this activity is good for all ages. I first saw it in my own Sunday school class and it touched me deeply, and my young kids loved it also.)
Another thing we did was use our Land of Obey chart this month. You can read more about it here. It’s been a fantastic way to show our children how following the “law” is a good habit regardless of what anyone else is doing. They’ve had a lot of fun with this!
Something I plan on doing is renting the movie “Amish Grace” and discussing it. “Amish Grace” is a movie about the West Nickel Mines school shooting several years ago (a terrible, horrific tragedy that happened in an Amish community) and what happened afterward. I have never seen the movie, but in the real-life story, amidst their own personal tragedy and heartbreak, the parents (and community) of the girls who were killed lovingly and mercifully reached out to the family of the killer. (I’m told this movie is PG, and that it is not graphic, but I will watch it first and let you know if I feel it is age-appropriate for our young kids.) It is a very touching, real-life story of justice and mercy during the most challenging of times. I think the story in and of itself is very moving and inspiring.
Good luck to you all. This value has turned out to be one of my favorites. Feel free to share any and all ideas, books, etc. that might go along with the value. And check back here often for more updates (and maybe even a giveaway…shh!) with more ideas and details about the monthly value of justice and mercy.