Dealing With Real Life Stuff
October 8, 2010
Updated September 6, 2018
2 comments 14 views
A six-year-old girl stormed into my class this Sunday with fists clenched. She was angry at a friend — another one of the girls in my class (though her friend wasn't there this Sunday). We were already part way through the session, but it was clear that she needed to get her feelings out! So we paused to hear her story.
It turns out that her best friend didn’t want to be her best friend anymore, and this girl wasn’t so much mad as she was hurt. She listed off all the nice things she's done for this friend and then said, "I do a lot of good stuff for her, but she won't be my best friend anymore!"
What do you do in moments like these — when you have a class full of kids and one of them is struggling with real life stuff?
These are the moments, I think, when real ministry happens. Suddenly there's a chance for other kids to show compassion, and offer advice; and a chance for you to help a child learn to draw on faith for strength in a difficult situation. After we talked for a little while, everyone bowed their heads and I prayed a short prayer, asking God to heal the friendship and send other good friends, but more importantly, let this little girl know that he loves her so much.
After I prayed, she prayed too. And when we all opened our eyes the shy little girl sitting next to us reached out and took her hand and whispered, “I would like to be your friend.”
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Your blog reminds me of our Walk With Me lesson about prayer in a class of 9-yr-olds I taught this spring. One boy commented how God didn't really listen to prayer because everyone prayed when his grandfather was ill and yet his Grandpa died anyhow several months earlier. He was angry and upset and sad. The lesson plan went out the window and we spent the rest of that class talking about why we should bother praying if God does what He wants anyhow.
You're right, Jolanda, this is where 'real ministry' happens. It was a very tough class for him, and for all of us -- we didni't come up with The Answer, but we had a lot of very important discussion and learned that God also listens to our hurts . It also reminded me to be attuned to a child's lingering sadness, and how supportive we need to be as a community of teachers/ mentors.
Thanks for sharing your story, Deb. What an important discussion! It is confusing for kids and adults when we pray and God answers in ways that are different than we hope or expect... I think it's so important to take time, like you did, to talk with kids about that. They need to see that we don't have all the answers either, and that we can still trust God even when we don't understand his plan, or when we feel angry or broken hearted.
I appreciate what you said about being attune to children's lingering sadness and providing support. In situations like the one you describe a child might be more inclined to hold their feelings inside at home because they don’t want to make a parent or sibling feel even sadder by bringing it up. If we are sensitive to that reality, we can look for ways to invite kids to talk and pray about the real things happening in their lives and create a nurturing environment where they feel comfortable doing that.
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