December 20th 2015
Everyone sat still, eyes riveted on the two teenage girls at the front of the room. "
I wrote this letter because I needed to forgive my older sister," confessed the first teenager. "She used to tell me that I was ugly, that I was a mistake, and that I would never amount to anything. My anger towards my sister was destroying me."
And then this brave teen began to read her heart-felt letter of forgiveness. She talked about the pain her sister caused, her consequent feelings of worthlessness, their troubled relationship, and that she wanted to forgive her. "I forgive you," she ended. "I don't want hate to live in me."
These teenage girls are part of a girls’ group that meets once a week under the direction of our StreetLeader coordinator, Aleisha. The purpose of the group is to create a safe place where young women can bare their souls, a place where they can find healing and learn to forgive.
"I just noticed that there were all these girls with broken relationships," recalls Aleisha. "In order to move ahead with their lives, they needed to forgive. Some girls have written 10 letters to the same person. Forgiveness, I'm learning, is a process."
Listening to our teens read their letters of forgiveness reminded me of the courage it takes to really bring peace into the world. Peace takes work, because peace begins with our own lives. We can't be instruments of peace if we're not committed to healing the unrest in our own lives first. Peace begins with us.
Advent is a time to reflect on the Prince of Peace coming into the world. In the coming days, we will sing songs about peace, pray for peace, and recite verses about peace. Let us find inspiration from these young women, who model for us the courage to forgive, so we can find peace in our own lives and the share it with the world.