By Allison Gingras
By Our Kids Need This, I Mean, We Need This
Vacation Bible School can be such a glorious avenue of extending faith formation during the summer. Over 10 years ago, a friend convinced me our children needed this, and we were the ones to make it happen. It started slow with 50 kids and volunteers, and by the time we left the program in new capable hands, the week’s enrollment toppled over 125!
What is Vacation Bible School
It was a divine week of singing and putting on skits (my role); outdoor games and yummy snacks (so not my role); coupled with my husband’s storytelling (there is nothing like seeing your hubby in Roman period garb). We thrived as a family each summer during that week—praising, praying, preparing. It was perfect!
Then we changed parishes.
Handling Change with Grace
Our new parish offered Vacation Bible School, but I would not be directing or dancing, because I needed to interpret the week’s activities into American Sign Language for my daughter Faith, the newest addition of our family via adoption from China.
My teenage sons were less-than-enthused about being “voluntold” for that summer’s VBS week. They made their displeasure known by dragging their feet and making us very late on that first morning. We arrived after the opening music had already begun. The room was dimly lit (to better see the lyrics), people were packed in the doorway (it was a small room), and our unfamiliarity with the parish confused and stressed me even further.
The boys’ less-than-best behavior, the mounting heat, and the anxiety of trying to navigate and get registered triggered a major panic attack. Finally reaching the registration desk, the nice volunteer behind the table handed me a yellow shirt for my daughter Faith. I was expecting the blue one, indicating she was in the Kindergarten group versus the preschool group, and then she nicely explained they were unable to accommodate a change to the “right” group.
And … then … it … happened.
Major meltdown — not the kids but me!
Handling Change Not so Gracefully
I yanked the shirt from her and told her, “Fine,” we’d try it her way. I stormed off, leaving her startled with tears welling in her eyes. Furious, I dragged my daughter over to the music area, barked orders at my sons to stop sulking and find their groups, and angrily signed the words to the opening song about “love and joy.” Oh, the irony!
Time to Eat Crow
We were shortly introduced to our groups and sent along our way to enjoy the day. The moment Faith and I walked into the colorfully decorated preschool room, saw the others campers including two other little girls with special needs, and we met her group leader (a special education teacher by trade), I instantly knew I had made a huge mistake! The Holy Spirit had guided us to the absolute perfect camp experience for Faith.
At that moment I contemplated two options: 1) Pretend my morning tantrum never happened and go along my merry little way, hoping the nice volunteer would forget it. Or 2) Gather my pride, find the kind woman, and beg for her forgiveness.
Doing the Right Thing
I went with Plan B as I wasn’t interested in changing our parish again quite this soon after arriving. When I finished apologizing, her eyes teared again! Oh man, now what did I say?!
She took a breath and explained how I was not the first to treat her that way during registration, but I was the first to apologize. She graciously accepted my apology and showed me great mercy. Laure became my first friend at our new parish, and she remains one of my dearest friends to this day.
Laure even graciously accepted my invitation to join the small faith-sharing group I host in my home. Over the years, she has brought several wonderful women into our group. One of her many gifts is definitely to be an inviter. The ripple effect of that one apology being received with great grace and mercy has garnered incredible blessings!
Sharing What Jesus Teaches You
Shortly after this little VBS tantrum and reconciliation, the Lord put it on my heart to conduct women’s retreats on the subject of forgiveness. This story has been a part of every single Seeking the Peace of Forgiveness presentation. I received forgiveness and an outpouring of great mercy and went forward, not only do likewise but also to encourage others to do the same.
Fruitful Friday is a weekly column revisiting some of our favorite previously posted WINE columns.
We are excited to look back at the many years of wisdom shared by the amazing team of WINE Writers.
When in your life have you seen a powerful ripple effect of doing the right thing, even when it was the most difficult?
About the Author:
Allison Gingras is the founder of Reconciled To You where she blogs, shares and speaks about the Catholic faith in our everyday life and the many opportunities life presents to discover the grace of God! She shares these with great enthusiasm, passion and a sense of humor. She is the author of The Gift of Invitation: 7 Ways Jesus Invites You into a Life of Grace part of the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women series. Allison is a WINE Specialist overseeing and facilitating the online aspect of the Read Between the WINES Book Clubs for WINE: Women in the New Evangelization.