Flowers of Forgiveness

Flowers of Forgiveness

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Be The Best You Can Be

Flowers of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.

~Mark Twain

The Children’s Theater was actually an old mill building with cement walls, twisting passages and big staircases. Everything smelled of mothballs, metal, and old grease. Static crackled in the air and every footstep echoed eerily.

One afternoon, my eight-year-old sister Brittany and I were with the drama group rehearsing A Little Princess, a children’s play based on a book by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

“Break a leg!” I whispered as Brittany adjusted her boarding school costume.

“Take your places for act one, please. Everyone, places for act one!” called the director, a woman with spiky blond hair and rings on every finger.

The lights went out and the rehearsal began. Halfway through the first act, Brittany finished her part and went backstage. She grabbed her script from the make-up table and read along with the rehearsal that was still at full swing in front of the curtain. A small group of fellow actors joined her, and started practicing lines. Suddenly, something wet exploded on the back of Brittany’s head! Spinning around, she saw a tall girl with a bottle of Febreze in her hand. She aimed it at Brittany’s ear, grinning widely. Splat! Gooey blue liquid slid down Brittany’s face. The older girl guffawed and looked to the other girls for a reaction. Brittany glanced at them, expecting them to speak up and defend her. Instead, they shrieked with laughter and pointed mocking fingers at Brittany, who ran out of the make-up room in dismay.

Ten minutes later, Brittany met me backstage. “A big girl just sprayed me with this stuff and laughed at me,” she said, trying to wipe the chemical out of her curly hair. “All the other girls laughed, too.”

I didn’t even know the girl’s name, and she was bullying my sister!

When we got home, we looked at the cast list and found that the girl’s name was Jessica. Our mom e-mailed the director, who said she would talk to Jessica and arrange time for an apology right before the next rehearsal. Nobody really expected a heartfelt apology from Jessica, but Brittany was prepared to forgive her.

Next rehearsal, the director met Brittany at the door and announced that we had a problem on our hands. “Jessica swears that she was never even near you yesterday.”

But Brittany knew the truth. As she glanced across the room full of young actors, she glimpsed Jessica slouching defiantly in a metal folding chair. For a split second, their eyes met. Jessica quickly whirled away to stare in the opposite direction. For weeks afterwards, no matter how hard Brittany tried to talk to her, Jessica refused to look her way.

It was very difficult for Brittany to work with Jessica every rehearsal, for three hours each week. But finally, we were ready to perform. There would be three performances over the course of the next weekend. Brittany and I were glad that the ordeal was almost over.

After the first show, Brittany and I each got a beautiful bouquet from our church’s pastor and his wife. Jessica didn’t get a single flower.

The second night, we received flowers from our grandparents. Again, Jessica received nothing.

On the way home, Brittany spoke up.

“Mommy,” she said quietly from the back seat of the car, “I’ve been thinking, and I decided I want to buy some flowers for Jessica.”

Mom smiled in surprise. “That would be very nice.”

Before the last performance, Brittany met Jessica on the way into the theater. She handed the older girl a big bunch of yellow roses, bought with her own savings. “Great job with the show last night, Jessica. These are for you.”

Jessica’s eyes popped in astonishment. “For me?” she faltered, squinting incredulously at Brittany’s warm smile. “These flowers are for me? Are you sure?”

“Yes, I want you to have them!” Brittany skipped towards the dressing room, leaving Jessica staring after her with a bewildered look on her face and a bouquet of beautiful flowers in her arms.

That night, Jessica finally received some flowers from her dad. She pulled out a sprig of carnations and smiled shyly as she gave them to Brittany.

Maybe Jessica will never apologize to Brittany. Maybe she won’t ever even admit her wrongdoing. But she is just beginning to realize what wonderful things God’s love does in people like Brittany.

~Caitlin Brown

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