Janet and Julie were sisters. They were also best friends. They played together every day after school. Best of all, they liked playing with their dolls. Janet’s best doll had real hair and would drink water from a bottle. Julie’s favorite had the most beautiful dress you could ever imagine.
One day the girls had to ride downtown with their mother on an errand. They didn’t mind because they just pretended they were taking their dolls for an outing. But the trip took longer than they had expected, and after awhile they got tired of playing with their dolls. Before you knew it, the girls were fighting.
“Hey, you’re crowding me. Get over on your own side of the seat,” Janet fussed.
“I’m not on your side! Mom, Janet’s fussing at me and I’m not doing anything,” Julie whined.
“And keep your hands off my doll,” Janet retorted.
“I’m not hurting your doll. What do you care if I smooth her hair, anyway. You don’t take care of her!” Julie kept the fight going.
“Then see how you like it if I give your precious little baby a thrill or two. You never take her out for any fun!” Janet dangled Julie’s doll out the window by one leg. “Whee, baby! Don’t you love feeling the wind in your hair?”
Julie went crazy! “Mom, Janet’s going to throw my doll out the window! Make her stop! Make her stop!”
Janet felt the car slow as Mom put on the brake. “Julie needs to be taught a lesson,” Janet thought. “She’s always getting into my things. I’ll just let go of her doll and give her a scare. Mom’s stopping the car anyway.” So Janet let go of Julie’s doll and Julie began to wail.
Mom stopped the car and turned to ask the girls what on earth was going on. “She threw my doll out the window!” Julie screamed.
“I only dropped her as Mom brought the car to a stop.” Janet pouted. “She’s not hurt. You’ll see. Anyway, you started it. You touched my doll first!”
Mother opened the car door. Julie and Janet pushed their heads out the window. The worst possible scene met their eyes. Julie’s precious doll was pinned under the car’s rear wheel. Her beautiful dress was covered with mud and her chest pressed flat.
“Now look what you’ve done!” Julie yelled. “I’ll never forgive you, I won’t, I won’t! And I don’t ever want to play with you again. You’re not my friend! And I wish you weren’t my sister!” Julie began to cry inconsolably.
How do you feel when someone hurts you badly? Usually you feel so bad you just wish you could hurt the person back just like they hurt you. You don’t want anything to do with them, and there doesn’t seem to be any way you could ever be friends again.
But God has provided a way for us to heal the hurts between us. The Bible teaches us how Christians live in relationship with one another. Human beings will hurt each other because of their sinfulness. But the Bible teaches us to say we are sorry when we have done wrong. And Jesus helps us to forgive one another even when we have hurt each other deeply. Saying we’re sorry and forgiving one another is hard, and it doesn’t happen fast. But it is God’s plan for helping us to live together as His family.
At first Janet was so mad at Julie she didn’t want to say she was sorry. But after awhile she began to feel very badly about what she had done. It would be hard to admit she had done wrong. Maybe Julie wouldn’t want to be her friend anymore. Then Janet had an idea. She would give Julie her favorite doll with the real hair and her baby bottle. It was the only way she could think of to show how sorry she was.
Meanwhile, Julie was so upset about her broken doll that all she could think about was getting back at Janet. She knew what she would do! She would sneak into her room and rip the hair out of her favorite doll and stomp on her baby bottle with her foot. A little part of her was worried she’d miss Janet as a friend, but right now she didn’t care. Quietly she opened Janet’s bedroom door. “Oh! Janet! I didn’t know you were here!” she cried out in surprise. Her plan would just have to wait, she thought to herself.
Imagine her surprise when Janet invited her into her room. “I’m really sorry I dropped your doll out the window and she got run over,” Janet said. “Mom says there’s nothing that can be done to fix her up. So I want you to have my doll with the real hair and the baby bottle. Here. She’s yours now.”
Julie just looked at her friend. She thought about her plan to stomp on the baby bottle and pull out the doll’s beautiful hair. “I’m sorry too for wanting to get you back,” Julie said softly. I can’t take your favorite doll. But we can share her! I tell you what. Let’s play like we’re teachers and all our dolls are our students, want too?
One thing was sure. Janet never wanted to hurt Julie like that again!
Saying your sorry and forgiving can make it possible for friends and family who hurt each other to come back together and live together happily again. It’s God’s special gift to His family on earth. He was the first to forgive, and when He lives in our hearts, His love makes it possible for us to say we’re sorry and forgive too. It’s a gift you’ll want to pass on in your family and among your friends.
By Karen Flowers
Source: New Beginnings: Family Ministries Planbook. Silver Spring, MD; Department of Family Ministries, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 2000.