(This is a guest post for my husband’s blog so you can just bypass my introduction paragraph. I should have deleted it for my own blog but really, who has the time?)
So, as many of you probably know, I’m Carla – Matt’s wife. We live under the same roof and eat the same food (except maybe one of us drinks more coffee and the other eats more chocolate…) and while those two things are the same, our work environments are completely opposite. He works in Bethel Music’s office (a land full of adults) and I work in an elementary school, where we, as the adults, are vastly outnumbered by people thirteen years and younger.
I say all that to say this: most of my blog posts are derived from something I’ve seen during my work day, and very commonly, these things point me to the Lord. Perhaps a better way of saying it is: the Lord speaks to me through children, which really shouldn’t be a surprise – the kingdom is made up of them. There are deep truths embedded in the eyes and mouths of children, and if I take the time to survey them, I would consider myself very lucky to be surrounded by them on a daily basis.
With all that said, today while I was about to start an intervention with a few students, one student in particular came into the classroom in full on tears. Not just tears that said, “I’m screaming for attention,” but as he started to unwrap his heart, I began to hear the words he was trying to say. To save all of you the trouble of me trying to scribe his kindergarten verbiage, he basically said that someone on the playground excluded him from a group and this hurt his feelings. The funny thing is, this particular child was actually a part of the group that the other boy was saying he was not a part of!
To fast forward a few minutes later, I sat my group of students down (both boys are in the group at this point) and the student who had been crying was very much still crying. His crying was the point that he could not even speak without trying to catch his breath every few seconds. In most cases, a big hug and a sticker are usually strong enough pacifiers but not today.
We sat the upset child in his seat, and I then spoke to the remaining five children in the group. I asked one particular girl how her heart felt while she watched a friend upset; her response?
“I don’t like it. Why is he sad?”
I advocated for the child to his peers and we all decided that the best thing we could all do was “celebrate” him. I’m not sure what other places would call this ritual, but while being a student at BSSM (Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry) I heard the phrase “let’s celebrate him/her” a lot, and it was usually followed by people throwing compliments to the person they were celebrating.
My students said things like:
“I like your shirt.” “You’re awesome!” “I like you 9,000!” “Don’t be sad!” “I really love you! I actually like you!”
There were a few more phrases here and there and most definitely an apology from the offender.
I wish I could say I was making this up, but literally as this little child heard positive things spoken over him and about him, his whole countenance changed, maybe within seconds. All of a sudden, he was hearing things over his life that weren’t negative, or “you don’t belong” but rather the opposite.
Speaking positive words over a child who may need help in believing the best about them can literally change their life. Unfortunately, I don’t know the home life of every student, but I do know the climate that I can control when they’re in my presence. It’s funny how at the end of the day, children and adults, just want to feel included; to feel a part of something. The major difference between children and adults is that children will voice this need while adults usually set up a corner and stay there… does that sound familiar to anybody?
How often do we write children off as little human beings who don’t know anything; or that things don’t matter to them until they’re older; that they’ll always be this way, etc. And trust me, there are days where these thoughts take little to no time to cultivate, usually due to frustration or that one child who just tipped the scale. However, when Jesus said, “Do not hinder them” I think He actually meant that.
The beautiful thing about children is that they have no filters. We never have to guess what a child is feeling or thinking, because their words are as plain as day and usually require little to no effort to unravel. The beauty that children (while young) don’t judge their peers based on color of skin or remember their malicious actions (usually) is an incredible thing that we could all learn a few lessons in. They truly forgive and forget and what a different world we would live in today if that principle was alive and well amongst us.
If there’s anything I’d love for you to walk away from with this blog, it is this: Remember the power of your words; remember that children are some of our greatest observers and they have a strange ability to feel when the temperature/climate has changed and that can strongly affect them. To remember to love them and explain things so that their little hearts and minds walk away feeling as though their needs were met and that you are a safe place for them.
If we share and extend grace to children, they’ll know what it feels like to extend it to others, and if we’ve succeeded there, then I’d call that a really good day.