“Janie’s Seventy Times Seven,” Friend, Sept. 1997, 28
“Mom, Jimmy took my crayons again and broke one.” Janie bolted into the kitchen, where Mom was loading the dishwasher, and angrily stamped her foot. “I wish I didn’t have a little brother!”
“Now, honey, I know you’re upset. But is that the way to talk? I’m sure that Jimmy didn’t mean to break your crayon.”
“But I told him to leave my things alone, and he took them, anyway. I already warned him, Mom. Now I’m going to break one of his toys!”
Janie’s mom pulled out a chair for her daughter. “Let’s talk about this first. What do you think the Savior would do?”
Last week in Primary, Janie had learned that Jesus Christ told people to forgive one another and to be kind to those who hurt you. She sat down and folded her arms defiantly. “Well, He said to forgive someone who does something mean to you. I already did that. I forgave Jimmy for getting into my stuff and told him to keep out of my room forever. He didn’t Mom. He’s wrecking all my stuff, and now he has to learn a lesson.”
“Let’s get out the scriptures and see exactly what Jesus said about forgiveness.” Mom left the kitchen a moment and returned with a Bible. She thumbed through the pages, then handed the Bible to Janie, indicating a verse highlighted in yellow. “Here it is.”
Quietly Janie read the scripture, then said aloud, “It says to forgive seventy times seven. That’s way too many times. It isn’t fair at all.” Janie handed the Bible back to her mom.
“Wouldn’t you want the Savior to forgive you more than once? Think about it.” Mom put the Bible down. “Maybe you could try teaching Jimmy how to take care of things. Jesus Christ said to do good to those who offend you—even your enemies.”
Slowly Janie stood. OK, she thought. I’ll forgive him seventy times seven. But then he’s really going to get it! She went to her bedroom and sat down at her desk. On a piece of scratch paper, she multiplied seventy times seven. “Four hundred and ninety times!” she exclaimed, dismayed. She opened a notebook and wrote “Number of times I’ve forgiven Jimmy” on the top of the first page. Underneath, she made two slashes. “That’s two,” she said aloud. “Only four hundred and eighty-eight to go.”
Later that evening she found Jimmy looking at one of her favorite books. He wasn’t being very careful and had ripped a page while turning it. Angry, Janie grabbed the book and glared at him. Jimmy scuttled backward, fear in his eyes. “Don’t hit me, Janie,” he pleaded.
Remembering her resolve to forgive Jimmy, she gritted her teeth and said, “I’m not going to hit you, even though you took my book without asking.” Then, remembering she was supposed to do something nice, she added, “Do you want me to read it to you?”
Jimmy was astonished, but he smiled happily. “Oh, yes!”
After reading the book to Jimmy, Janie didn’t feel so angry. In fact, she decided to read it to him again because he seemed to enjoy it so much. Before she went to bed that night, she got out the notebook and made another slash. “That’s three,” she said.
The next day Jimmy was an even bigger pest than usual. But instead of acting in anger, Janie always did something nice for her brother and tried to teach him the right way to do things. When she got out her notebook that night before bed, she made eight more slashes. “That’s eleven,” she sighed. “Only four hundred and seventy-nine to go.”
“Jimmy! Get off my bike!” Janie shrieked the next morning. Jimmy was so startled that he toppled over onto the driveway. He was just learning how to ride a two-wheeler and wasn’t very good yet.
“You’re supposed to be riding my old bike,” Janie said, helping him up. “Why are you using my new birthday bike?”
“I can’t go very fast on that old squeaky bike,” Jimmy whined. “Please don’t be mad at me. I was trying not to hurt it.”
Janie sighed and dusted her brother off. “Well, my new bike won’t do you much good. It’s so big that you can’t reach the pedals if you sit on the seat. Let’s see if Dad can oil the other one.”
The old bike was soon oiled, and Janie and Jimmy rode together around the neighborhood.
After dinner, Janie told Jimmy, “I’m drawing a picture for Grandma. Do you want to draw one with me?” Jimmy nodded enthusiastically. I might as well ask him, Janie thought. He’d just get into my crayons, anyway.
It was Friday night, so Janie was allowed to stay up later. Her friend Kacey came over, and they played with dolls for a while. Then they decided to play a board game. Jimmy asked if he could play with them. Before Janie could answer, Mom said, “It’s time for bed, Jimmy.”
“Aw, Mom,” Jimmy complained. “It isn’t fair. I want to play too.” Frustrated, he jumped to his feet, accidentally knocking the game over.
“Jimmy,” Mom told him, “you need to apologize to your sister.”
“It’s OK, Mom,” Janie said. “He didn’t mean to.” Turning to Jimmy, she asked, “How about if Kacey and I read you a story before you go to bed?”
Happily Jimmy agreed. He listened to the story, then hugged his sister, waved good night to Kacey, and went to bed without a fuss.
Saturday was cleaning day. While organizing her desk, Janie picked up her notebook and stared at it thoughtfully. Finally she opened it and ripped out a page.
Later, as Mom picked up the trash from the bedrooms, the word Jimmy caught her eye. Curious, she took the paper from the wastepaper basket and smoothed it out. “Number of times I’ve forgiven Jimmy,” it said. A couple dozen slashes were underneath.
Just then, Janie walked into the room and saw Mom looking at the wrinkled page. Smiling sheepishly at her mother, she said, “I guess I don’t need that anymore. It’s funny, but Jimmy doesn’t seem as annoying as he used to.”