What’s in my fifth pocket? Front pocket – 500 Rupees, car keys, lens wipes, moist towelettes, insurance cards, wireless headphones, wired headphones, a half used packet of crystal light (raspberry lemonade), a few receipts for work, 26 cents, a floss pick, and three business cards from people I met in India; Main pocket – cellphone (galaxy s7edge), my mini journal (moleskin), 2 non-violent communication (NVC) process cards with emotions and needs/values detailed on the back, a blue permanent marker, 2 paper mate pens, a Plant with Purpose flyer, and a Plant with Purpose, sticker, rear pocket – a balloon pump, and 7 twisting balloons (60inches).

When I taught Vacation Bible School this week, there was some drama. There was an impromptu game of zombies that went a little too far. A girl, who we will call Lucy, pushed another girl, who we will call Jennifer, pretty hard because she got freaked out by their zombie impressions. Lucy insisted that she told Jennifer and the others to stop, and they wouldn’t, so she felt the need to protect herself, and so she lashed out, hard. Lucy initially tried to plead her case, that she told them to stop but they kept coming. She knew pushing was wrong so after she finished crying she tried to go to Jennifer to apologize. But Jennifer wasn't interested. She said, “I do not accept your apology.” Feeling completely shut out, Lucy started bawling and wondering why Jennifer is holding this against her. I told Lucy that sometimes it takes people time to forgive. Well, time went on. After one of the activities, Jennifer walks by Lucy and says, “I still don’t forgive you” (in a very self-righteous tone). Lucy begins weeping once again. Jennifer got what she wanted.

It’s sad how humans do this to each other. We use our righteousness as a tool for pain. I’ve done this before, and seeing it on Jennifer revealed just how I look when I insist on my rightness over seeking to understand the other. Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us, sinners.

As the day progressed Jennifer continues holding this against Lucy. Her tone and attitude indicates that she is enjoying the power she holds over her. When everyone in the group starts comforting Lucy, even apologizing for provoking her in the zombie game, Jennifer feels the tide turning against her. So Jennifer accuses Lucy of “popping her balloon,” something that happened hours before, and when it happened Jennifer showed no indication that she was upset, she may have even laughed. At this point I stepped in and told Jennifer that what she’s doing isn’t right. When I came to Lucy’s defense, Jennifer felt defeat so she ran to a corner and refused to speak. Eventually she agreed to sit on the edge of our group, but she wasn’t talking.

After a couple of minutes I sit down with her. She doesn’t respond. I then asked her, “How do you feel?” She said nothing. Then I pulled out my Non-violent Communication process cards from my fifth pocket. On the back of these cards are over 50 core feelings. The core negative feelings are fear/anxiety, anger/frustration, and sadness/grief. I read these out to her and asked her which one. She whispers, “Anger.” It’s then I realize that I scolded her in front of everyone, which must have been very embarrassing. So I apologized for scolding her, but I explained to her that I knew she didn’t care about that balloon, and that I didn’t like that she was trying to make Lucy cry again. I told her that I wanted to come to the defense of someone who felt powerless. She doesn’t respond. I asked her if she felt alone because people were pushing her away. I asked her if she wants reconnection and that “connection” is a core need/value. Then I told her that the longer she refuses to forgive, she’s going to keep pushing everyone away from her. I then told her that I love her regardless, but if she wants connection, forgiveness is important. When I put it this way, I asked her if she was ready to forgive Lucy. She nodded in agreement. Lucy then came to Jennifer and whispered, “I accept your apology,” and Jennifer apologized again and they were reconciled, laughing and playing once again.

We often don’t know how we feel until we hear some feelings read out to us. That’s why I find carrying my non-violent / core family of feelings card in my fifth pocket very helpful. I also carry extra copies and use them as conversation starters with friends or strangers.  

What are you feeling? Adventurous? Satisfied? Bored? Disappointed? Hurt? Inspired? If it’s a negative feeling, it’s probably because you have a need or value that isn’t being met. Could that need be protection? Security? Recreation? Peace? Appreciation? Affection?

To know how we feel is the beginning of knowing what we need or value.

In my next post I’ll describe the non-violent communication process. For now, a story of forgiveness, aided by the fifth pocket, will suffice. Visit to learn more about non-violent communication.