Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Remembering The Kindness Of God in Raising Our Kids

Remembering God's Kindness

I regularly read devotions from the ministry 'Our Daily Bread.'  Recently this particular one hit home with me.  It references a couple verses in Isaiah that immediately made me think of a situation with each of our kids growing up, and how God's kindness to them (and to us as parents) really helped.  The verses go like this:

'I'll make a list of God's gracious dealings,
all the things God has done that need praising,
All the generous bounties of God,
His great goodness to the family of Israel - 
Compassion lavished, love extravagant'
.....
In all their troubles, he was troubled too.
He didn't send someone else to help them.
He did it himself, in person.
Out of His own love and pity he redeemed them.
He rescued them and carried them along for a long, long time.'
Isaiah 63:7, 9

Our Daughter and Anxiety

When our daughter was going into grade 7, our whole family agreed together that both kids would switch schools to a local Christian school.  It was really important that we engaged them in that decision because that first year in the new school for Kornelia wasn't easy.  She had a hard time making friends, and had an intense struggle with anxiety.  Sometime she found it hard to sit in class because of this, and large assemblies with the whole school were agony for her.

Her teacher, and particularly the assistant teacher for her class began to pressure us to get some professional help for her.  We weren't keen on jumping into this right away, and did a lot of praying and talking with Kornelia about it.  We were going to a small group at the time, and one of the ladies there was a counsellor.  When we informally ran our concerns about Kornelia by her, she agreed with us that trying to work with Kornelia personally and patiently was the best plan forward.  Gradually, over the course of the next couple of years, as Kornelia became more comfortable with the school, the teachers, and her classmates, God took the anxiety away.  

God's kindness in this entire experience was evident when, at graduation, Kornelia played her guitar and sang solo alone on stage in front of the entire assembly of graduates and their families.  Following the ceremony, her grade 7 teacher signed Kornelia's grad picture frame with 'God is good!  Look at how far you've come since grade 7, Kornelia!'  

The fam at Kornelia's Grad Ceremony
The fam at Kornelia's Grad Ceremony

Our Son and Community

The same school move had an impact on our son Erik as well.  He also had a difficult time finding friends, and was bullied during that first year after the move (yes, in a Christian school).  He's a sensitive guy and this troubled him for some time.  He would have a close friend for a while, but then that friend would find another interest (or friend), or move away, and Erik would feel alone again.  

This feeling was magnified for Erik when as a junior he was asked to play drums with the senior worship team.  He made good friends there, but they weren't in his grade and he lamented that fact on numerous occasions.  I don't think I understood just how important friends and community were for Erik at the time.  I'm not sure he knew how to articulate it, or if I missed a queue somewhere.  Its quite possible he did communicate his heart in this area to his Mom and I underestimated its importance.

Erik got older and this particular school had a tradition of taking its grade 11 classes on a missions/field trip to an orphanage in Guatemala.  It was a big deal for every student in grade 11, and the class prepared all year for the trip with fundraisers, training, and planning skits and work teams.  All the parents, including us, prayed that the trip would have a life changing impact on our kids.  In Erik's case it had a significant, lasting affect.

I don't know all the details of what happened, but apparently in one of the evening debriefs with the class, the lead chaperone pleaded to not leave what happened there behind.  This left an impact on Erik and he felt that God was prompting him to do something about it.  He made a promise to not remain passive anymore but to be active in building community.  And when they got home, he took the initiative to make that happen.

Since that time, continuing all the way to current day (6 years later!) he and a number of his friends from that class have been meeting as a small group - of their own accord - on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.  Its not always a spiritual discussion, and that's fine.  They keep each other accountable and look out for each other.  Its really been special to see how God has answered the cry of Erik's heart for friendship and community from when he was young.

A candid snapshot of Erik from the Guatemala trip

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