Monday, September 12, 2011

Teaching Grace

We had our first real test of what it means to give grace freely, at least at a 6 year old level.
Emerson had her first "bullying" experience last week.  I won't go into all of the details, but suffice it to say Emerson was pushed and another girl hurt by one of her classmates.  Thankfully no one was really hurt (no trips to the nurse).  Ugly words were also thrown.  I'm so thankful for her teacher who handled the entire situation very gracefully and peacefully without singling any of the students' involved out.

When Emerson got home from school that day I got her version of the story (after receiving an email from her teacher earlier in the day explaining generally what had occurred that day) and while it seems (and teacher confirmed) that Emerson was purely on the receiving end,  it beckoned a conversation about how to handle the situation - both while at school and in her heart (even though the mama bear instinct in me wanted to march in the shool and approach the girl and her parents! I resisted. Ha!).

The words Jon and I shared with her I prayed were full of His wisdom, because we certainly couldn't get the right point across on our own (and I still don't know if we really got it right)!  A conversation of this nature is hard, at least it seemed, when it comes to when and how Emerson should protect her heart versus the nature of grace.

It was not ok for this classmate to hurt her or her friend in the way she did.  If it happens again, I explained, she needs to make sure an adult knows what happened and try to get herself out of the situation right away.

It turns out many of her classmates involved turned on this little girl.  They decided they weren't her friend and they wouldn't include her in their play at school.

And that piece of information lead to the conversation of grace - what it means and why we give it.  I asked Emerson to think about why this classmate could have been angry, why she responded the way she did, and where she may be coming from while trying not to condone what she did.  I reasoned that while maybe it didn't feel like the girl didn't deserve to keep her friendship, that the first thing we should do is pray for her, and then Emerson needed to choose to show kindness to her and even invite her to play again when the time arose during her school day.

It didn't seem fair, Emerson said.  Why would she play with her if she wasn't going to be nice.
This verse was found:

"But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.  Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful."  -- Luke 6:35-36

Grace is a heavy thing - it's hard to do and it's hard to understand - especially at 6 years old.  It gets even harder, though, doesn't it?  The older we get the more pride we can accumulate.  I genuinely pray that Jon and I can demonstrate and show grace - to our kids, to each other.  

As parents, do you have a way to demonstrate this?  Would you have handled this differently?  If so, how?  I'd really love to discuss this more - to sharpen and encourage each other.  What would you have done?

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