NOTE: I had the pleasure of meeting Dawn Anderson at an event recently. She has a twinkle in her eye and beautiful heart energy. The moment I met her, I knew there was something very special about her. She is an Angel, indeed! Dawn is the guest columnist this week sharing a powerful message of compassion and forgiveness, both energies that help put us in closer connection and communication with our Angels. Enjoy! Tami
The first day of school is an exciting day for most students. For me it is a life-changing experience.
When I walk into the classroom, I’m always greeted with surprise, laughter and sometimes fear. No, I’m not that scary, but my assistant, Maggie provides the shock. She is beautiful with expressive eyes and a desire to play, but she also has a broken nose and a fear of garden hoses. She is a loving shepherd mix who was scheduled to die in Arkansas.
Maggie’s love and acceptance of her students provide us all with a living example of life’s most important lesson ~ forgiveness. It was a human who broke her nose. It was a human who used to discipline her with a hose. But she learned that to be happy you have to let go of the past in order to improve your future. If Maggie didn’t have the ability to forgive and give love, her tale would have ended in Arkansas.
This type of visual brings home the message more powerfully than any words I could speak to these wonderful students. So many of them are leading sad and troubled lives. At Healing Species, we teach that what happens to you now does not have to define what you become.
Our lessons begin by talking about abuse or any hurts that affect us. We give them steps to forgive and release the pain, then move forward into giving love. The strength gained from this provides these powerless children with power for the first time in their lives. We spend a great deal of time discussing the types of power and the benefits of using it wisely with a focus on anti-bullying techniques. Many children grasp that they can control their responses and build the reputation and future they desire.
The Healing Species curriculum is a formal violence intervention/character education program, but what it really is to me, based on my students reactions, is a hope building program. So many children feel their lives are already determined because of their current circumstances. Here they learn they can become whatever they can dream. We teach them to find their passion and focus on what brings them joy. They all have dreams of successful careers when they grow up. If my informal polls are accurate, there will be a Veterinarian boom in about 15 years!
When Maggie and I walk into class that first day, I see students who are scared or shy. Each week the bond between Maggie and the children grows stronger and they can’t wait for her to walk into the room. She can shift the energy of a room in seconds.
One day when I arrived at class, a young man was sitting in the hall and was not allowed back into the room until his attitude improved. His anger and frustration was painted boldly across his face. I asked him if he wanted some love and when Maggie nuzzled up to him, the problems he wrestled with melted away. It touched me deeply to see a reluctant smile cross his face as he re-entered the room. He was happy and engaged all through class.
This is just one example of how we bring love into the classroom. These children are taught math, science and history which are all important, but the most important thing in the world is love. Where can you learn that if your home life suffers? To incorporate love into their daily routine opens these children like never before. Unconditional love is more rare these days than full service gas stations. But now at our schools when we leave class on that last day of school, there is no fear and no one is shy. There are only hugs and hearing plenty of ” I love you!”
Here are a few forgiveness tips:
1. Remember the person that hurt you is human. Sometimes when someone hurts us we tend to think of them as monsters and give them more power. When we remember they are hurting us because they have most likely been hurt themselves, it brings things into perspective.
2. Let go of the need to get even. Retaliation is a normal response when we’ve been hurt, but when we act upon it, we are keeping the pain alive. By releasing the emotion (crying, screaming, running), you are freeing yourself from the hurt and you can move on.
3. Know the relationship will be different and that’s ok. You don’t need to maintain a relationship with someone who hurt you, regardless of your relation to them. Knowing this can be freeing.