I heard the coolest idea in a sermon the other day (is coolest even a word?)...the pastor who was speaking went on a trip with a girl whose Bible study had agreed to do this "activity," and she lugged her rocks onto an airplane!! He had us all laughing as he was describing his frustration at the weight she added to her suitcase. Anyhow, he shared this idea with us and I thought that I'd share it all with you for our activity of the day:
today, if you live near the mtns or someplace that has beautiful (and fairly large) rocks, I'd like you to go out and hunt for the largest and prettiest ones you can find (I promise...this activity is so worth it)...if you live nowhere near pretty (and free) rocks...head over to the landscaping department of your local home depot, hardware store, or even walmart. You may need lots so try to get as many as you can for this fun activity. ALSO, after finding/collecting your rocks you are going to need a very sturdy bag with super-strength handles to carry them in...i find that a HUGE suitcase with the pop-up handles and wheels is extremely handy.
( a little side note story: I could probably complete this activity with my own "rock collection," if the rocks were large...but, they are tiny...lol, every school that Tate has ever attended from preschool on, he takes one or two rocks/pebbles from the playground and brings them home as presents to me...I have an antique jewelry box and he places them in there...three years down the road and the boy is still bringing me home rocks for my present of the day!! haha, when he attended a school that had wood chips rather than pebbles, he brought me home a wood chip and apologized that his new school did not landscape with rocks).
Once you have your rock collection home, find a quiet spot and set them all out in front of you...and begin filling your sturdy bag...as you fill it...think about unforgiveness...think about times that you have been hurt by someone (be it physically/verbally/emotionally etc etc) and think about how it affected you...ask yourself if you are harboring unforgiveness toward this person for their offense? for each offense, place a rock in your bag and NOW carry this bag around with you EVERYWHERE!!! if you go to bed, take it with you! when you wake...carry it to the bathroom, to the kitchen, to work, as you travel, as you go for a bike ride, as you go swimming (that activity might be a little difficult to attempt and as a suggestion, I might avoid swimming while carrying a suitcase loaded with landscaping rocks), to church, to the grocery store...you get my point.
Think about it...these rocks are SO heavy!! our past hurts are SO heavy...but, if we have unforgiveness in our hearts from these hurts, we are the only one carrying these rocks around...not our offenders!! If you are married and you are both carrying around a giant bag of rocks, how can you hold each other's hands AND onto your children? the heavier the bag gets, the more challenging it is to enjoy life...or even go about simple tasks b/c the weight makes it difficult to bear any other burden.
I think of an abusive mother that I know...it is so sad because she really hurt her children and several of her grown children are bitter and, for lack of better word, dramatic, it seems that a couple of them work hard to be people-pleasers and even to please her still...they are hurting and b/c they are hurting they hurt others in the way that they overreact and hold grudges. If I think about all of the hurts that their mother caused physically and emotionally as rocks that they carry around daily, I cannot imagine how they deal with anything else. While their mother may never say sorry for the pains she caused...while she may never recognize her own sins, and while their father, in his grave, can never apologize for never defending them...for allowing his wife to beat the crap out of their children...they can cause their own closure...they can throw those stones out into the ocean...they can say "I release the weight of this burden you are causing me! You hurt me, you stole my childhood, but, I forgive you!"
Forgiveness is a difficult choice...it feels like by forgiving someone you are giving them permission to treat you poorly...this isn't the case...I mean, it doesn't guarantee that they will change...but, I can guarantee that you will! By forgiving, you also aren't taking a "doormat" position and allowing your offender to hurt you again, you are simply releasing the hold that they have on you...it's a heart matter. Forgiveness frees you to live in joy, it releases you of those pounds and pounds of stones that you are carrying around on your back. Sometimes we may not even know that we need to forgive someone, it might just feel like a need for closure from a hurt that you buried deep down inside twenty years ago. You know the girl I mentioned earlier...well, the pastor said that she did carry those heavy rocks on the plane and as the trip went on, she began to realize the hold that her unforgiveness had on her and she released each of those stones...she threw them into the ocean. Become a stone-thrower today...as you lighten your own load, you just might change the lives of your offenders as well...forgiveness is not something ANY of us deserve.