Last week the World History teachers at my school did this brown paper bag activity with all the seventh graders. It happened to take place the day after we wrapped up our kindness project. The whole premise is that each kids gets a bag to decorate, then they are given two yellow slips of paper to write down two positive things someone in the class has done for them, two green slips where they write two negative things someone in the class has done towards them, then one other slip where they give a compliment to someone. The teachers then sorted all the slips (what a lot of work!), then gave each kid a bag filled with the slips that pertained to them, taking out any that seemed untrue or were written in a hurtful manner.
The next day all the kids got their bags, some with a rainbow of colored slips, some with lots of good, some with lots of bad, and some that were nearly empty. The teachers did an excellent job of talking about the contents of the bags with the kids, and it was clear that although some kids had a hard time processing the contents (they are 12), it meant so something to them. I noticed an "electricity" in the air the rest of the day too, and you other teachers will know what I'm talking about.
The following day I also debriefed with the kids because it tied in so well with what we'd been working on in class. It was really interesting to hear the kids thoughts on the activity and either their joy, sadness, or disappointment at the bag's contents. One of the things I really worked to drive home with that was that what we do matters, big and small. Each and every one of us. Also, for the kids with bags filled with the negative things they have done to others- what you've done in the past doesn't define you, it's what you do now that matters. We all make mistakes, no one is perfect, but if we let our past hurts and mistakes define us, we're missing the point.
As the week went on, I could see a number of the kids really working to make some positive changes, which is really cool!
I obviously couldn't bring up God's grace when talking with the kids in class, but there is so much hope there for all of us. When we ask, our past mistakes are not only forgiven, they are "forgotten" by God. Through Jesus we become a new creation, no longer weighed down by our past mistakes. Jesus says: "Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest." Maybe this is where you are today, if it is, come find eternal rest. Your life will be changed for ever.
Jeans: Old Navy same
Necklace: Stella and Dot
Bracelet: Keep c/o here
Heels: via thredUP similar
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