Some time ago, New Path Center was assigned a juvenile offender case that involved two girls, Marie and Julia. The case was a referral from the Kingsburg Police Department. The girls had a history of not getting long including verbal attacks, name calling, and escalation with physical violence.
Other girls knew that the two girls hated each other. These girls even encouraged Marie and Julia to fight by starting gossip about them in the hope for seeing more drama. The "spectators" would actually tell Marie what Julia said about her; and, of course, they would tell Julia what Marie said about her. Then they would watch the sparks fly!
I held individual meetings with both Marie and Julia. Each girl had a parent present in that meeting. The individual meetings went well as each girl volunteered to participate in a modified
as one of
to address their on-going conflict.
One of the reasons for the modification was that neither girl wanted their parents involved in the process of reconciliation. In fact, they really
want me involved. They felt they could resolve their conflict on their own. (Hooray for Option 4!) I told them I would not be making any decisions for them. They would make the decisions that would shape their future relationship. I’d be there to help them have a constructive conversation. They agreed to meet together in the
office with me as their facilitator, i.e. someone to help make the process easier.
Frankly, I was concerned about the meeting going badly without parents or community members being present. I felt the meeting could easily turn into a violent Jerry Springer show. I even considered having a police officer join the meeting or at least request an officer to be on stand-by.
Even so, I decided not to “big deal” it and stayed with the modified KCJC and proceeded to meet with just the two girls. We started with some ground rules, then talked about what happened, how to make things as right as possible, and lastly, they made some promises about the future.
This was one of the easiest conflicts I have ever facilitated. The girls stepped up to the higher task of reconciliation. They did not personally attack each other but shared out of their own brokenness and owned their part in their conflicted past. At one point their dialogue become so personal, I offered to step out of the meeting to give them some privacy. They agreed and I left them alone. I rarely do this out of concern that things can quickly take a turn for the worse. But the girls did very well.
At the end of the meeting, I asked the girls if they thought they had just experienced
. They both said yes. I asked them if they could give me a definition of forgiveness. They both agreed that forgiveness was when they no longer held the wrongs of the past against each other. (They got it!)
Before Marie and Julia left my office, I asked them if they wanted to meet again in a few weeks to follow-up and hopefully celebrate their new and improved relationship. Surprisingly, they agreed to meet with me. In fact, we agreed to meet at
in Kingsburg. However, when I called to follow-up, they did not return my call or, if they did take my call, they would tell me how busy they were and could not meet. Finally, I turned back the case to the police department with a note that said, "After several attempts to make contact with the offenders and having left several messages, I am waiving the follow-up meeting. (Perhaps, the thought of meeting with an old guy over ice cream was not appealing to two young girls.)" Hence, I considered the case closed but not really sure if things worked out between the two.
Several weeks went by, and one day Marie and Julia dropped by my office. They were together, happy, giggling, and just enjoying each other's company. They said, "We have come for our ice-cream celebration!" I dropped everything and we walked to Baby Cakes. The flavor of two scoops of forgiveness tasted sooooo good.