This is a lesson I constructed from many references that I have gathered over the past months. I gather two of them from my college class Language and Literacy last semester. I revised the references and molded it into a religious study for my youth group one Wednesday night.
For dealing with cliques and the one person that no one wants to spend time with. This exercise will “sensitize” your students to the problem and make awareness of self-esteem damage and bullying.
First, make a paper doll (boys or/and girls can participate) and color the doll. Then, as you tell the story; whenever it says RIP, you will rip off a piece of the doll, starting with one elbow, then the foot next, then the knees, etc. Or allow the students to choose wherever they want to rip it off. Watch how the student may be hesitant in doing so, because they did just spend time and thought into coloring their doll.
However, little do they know, in the second half of the story, you TAPE the doll back together again following each scripture spoken.
Let me introduce you to a kid named Susie (or Stewie). This kid is an ordinary person, just like you. There are things he or she likes and doesn’t like, just like you. There are things that she or he is good at doing and things that he or she is not so good at.
The kid has friends and a family, just like you, too!
When people are nice to Susie or Stewie, they are happy, and when people are not nice, it hurts their feelings. There is one very special thing about this ordinary kid though – when you hurt their feelings, you can actually see that they’re hurt!
Let’s listen to a story about one day in this kid’s life:
Our story starts on a school day, when their mother wakes them up for school. Well, this kid was kind of slow in getting up that morning.
Their mother said, “Quit being lazy and get up. I wish you were more like your sister, she’s never lazy in the morning.”
And that hurts their feelings.
Well, they got up and got dressed, and went downstairs for breakfast. Their older sibling was already eating breakfast, and looked up when they came in.
The older sibling made a face and said, “Are you really going to wear that? You look like a dork!”
And that hurt our friend’s feelings again.
After breakfast, they went outside to wait for the school bus. When it came, they got on and started to sit down next to their friend Jane.
But Jane said, “You can’t sit here. I’m saving this seat for Johnny.”
And that hurt their feelings, too.
At school that morning, they couldn’t find their essay that they worked all night on to turn in. They looked in their book bag and locker, but they couldn’t find it. The teacher was standing by, waiting for them to find it.
In front of the whole class, the teacher said, “You are so disorganized. I think you’d lose your head if it wasn’t attached.”
Finally, it was time for break. During break, some of their friends were organizing a game and they wanted to play, too.
But the captain of the first team said, “I don’t want you on my team. You run too slow, you’d make us lose!”
The captain of the other team said, “I don’t want them either. They can’t even kick.”
And another kid said, “Why don’t you go do something else?”
And the other kids agreed in unison.
Well, that was a rough day, so they went home with all these rips, tears, and hurts. They understand that there are off days where nothing seems to go right. It was just one of those days. But it still doesn’t feel good.
Anyone can replace their own burdens or hurts that they have experienced within this part of the story, and there will be the same outcome. A piece of you is either torn away or damaged.
Does anything come to mind that may have torn a piece of you away?
Let’s continue with our story…
As they mull over the day they had, they then remember something that the pastor at their church told them to do when they’re feeling down, is to read their Bible. So they open their Bible that night and began reading scriptures like…
Song of Solomon 4:7
You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.
They started to feel a little better and it continues on and on with each scripture.
Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
And so after they read their Bible, they went to bed, feeling lightness in their heart. All the rips of hurt throughout the day are taped up and they are whole. Because they know they have a Father in Heaven who loves and cares for them no matter what. Who sent His only Son to die for them. That they are precious and earthly things and sayings are nothing compared to the undying Love that their Father has for them.
My question for you is this, however:
Does your doll look the same as it did before?
Do you see the scars?
These lines are scars, they will fade over time, just like physical scars, but they may never go away. They remain reminders of our past.
Remember this; we’re not the only people carrying scars. In fact, the Son carries some of His Own. He carries them for YOU, for you to be saved by His blood He shed for you. His scars are reminders for you and me.
Our scars can carry a similar note, too. To be reminders that we make mistakes, and get hurt, but also to remind us that we have a Heavenly Father to rely upon to comfort and to guide us through the hardships and hurts.
Sometimes scars aren’t so bad, the pain before the scars was bad, but you pushed through and recovered from them. With the help of Christ our Lord, He carried us through those pains that leave those scars.
Scars become harmless after the pain.
They become lessons.
The Cracked Pot: a Story for Anyone Who’s Not Quite Perfect
A water bearer in India had two large pots, one hung on each end of a pole, which she carried across her neck.
One of the pots had a crack in it. While the other pot was perfect, and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the mistress’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.
For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to her master’s house.
The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream: “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.”
“Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?”
“I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your mistress’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.
The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in her compassion she said, “As we return to the mistress’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”
Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some.
But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.
The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side?
“That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them.
“For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my mistress’s table. Without you being just the way you are, she would not have this beauty to grace her house.”
Many people feel that God can’t use them because they’re not perfect—this is a lie. God (the Potter) uses cracked pots (that’s us) to do His work. As Christians, we are containers that God wants to fill with His goodness and light. Then we’re to carry that goodness and light to a dark world, sharing it with people everywhere we go. Don’t be afraid of your flaws; acknowledge them and allow God to use you anyway. Quit worrying about what you’re not and give God what you are. (Meyers)
Each of us has our own unique flaws. We’re all cracked pots.
But it’s the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. We’ve just got to take each person for what they are, and look for the good in them.
Each of us has our own unique flaws. We’re all cracked pots. But if we will allow it, the Lord will use our flaws to grace His Father’s table. In Gods great plan, nothing goes to waste or is a mistake. Don’t be afraid of your flaws, embrace them, because flaws are beautiful and can make beautiful things.
Acknowledge them, and you too can be the cause of beauty. Know that in our weakness your strength is made perfect.
–2 Corinthians 12:9
This game is a potential life changing game. It works best for groups that know each other reasonably well.
Sit in a circle and give everyone a piece of paper and pen. Each person should write their name at the top of the piece of paper, then pass it to the person on their left. Each person then writes one or two (or more) positive characteristics about the person whose name is at the top of the paper.
After 30-60 seconds, everyone passes the pieces of paper around to their left again. This continues until everyone has written on everyone else’s paper.
The final step is that everyone receives their piece of paper back again.
It works best if you collect them and hand them out one at a time, so everyone can see people’s reaction seeing the positive comments about themselves. Depending on the makeup of the group, one option is to have people read out their own list. As some commenters have pointed out below, it may be worth doing a quick check to ensure the comments are appropriate and positive.
Done well, this is an incredibly affirming game and can be a night that people literally remember for years to come.
This lesson was perceived well, although I did have some squabbles towards the end. But I now have designed a “follow-up” to this lesson that I will be doing this Wednesday. It involves Pessimists and Optimists.