Monday, 12 December 2011
Today I feel led to write a blog post because of the acts of my eldest son Joshua. I feel I need to honour him publicly for his recent experience!Joshua is your average 8 year old...he's sporty, fun, back-chatty, inquisitive, and starting to become a bit smelly and hormonal ;-) But one thing quite unique about our Joshua is his deep rooted love for Jesus. His desire to have more of God in his life and heart.
Josh is in year 4 of junior school. He's always been a popular child, attracting many friends, but at the start of juniors in year 3, he faced a part of life we never want our children to experience...let me explain....!
Josh came home from school one day the beginning of this year clearly upset and angry. When asked what had happened in his day, he explained to us that during a religious education debate, he fell out with one of his best friends. The teacher had asked if any children believed in God and heaven. Josh raised his hand and said he did and that he believed that by loving Jesus he would go to heaven. This other child disagreed with Josh and said she knew that her grand-father who had passed away was in heaven and he hadn't believed in God.
This led to a disagreement between the children and the other child became upset and Joshua was forced to apologise to her and told he wasn't allowed to say such things in future. Joshua did apologise and after school told the teacher that he went to church church and that in KonstructionKrew he is taught that he should be strong in his faith and not be afraid to talk about it. We were proud of Josh but did remind him to be sensitive to other peoples beliefs and to perhaps stay away from this other child for a few days.
The next day when I collected Josh from school, the mother of the other child quite rudely confronted me about the previous days happenings and made it quite clear she didn't want my son near her daughter, and that we were clearly (I quote) brainwashed and stupid! I walked away quite upset...for my children and hers...but knew it was a test to see how we dealt with it.
From that day onwards Joshua experienced daily taunting for admitting he is a Christian. He would often come home from school angry, upset and frustrated. As parents it broke our hearts to see him experiencing bullying and unkind-ness. We regularly prayed for him, informed our childrens pastor and had her pray with him and encouraged him about his faith and friendships.
This continued for months and at times I felt helpless as a mummy to help my son. We considered moving him to another school...but then saw that by doing this we were running away from the situation...and despite his trials, Josh still loved school and his unit of friends there. Plus, we want to teach our children by being examples that you can't run away...that's not solving an issue, it's just delaying the process of reaching an answer...
The situation with the other child wasn't getting any easier...she made threats of getting family members to "beat" Joshua up, regularly taunted him in front of his peers, and made up lies about him such as him tripping her up...even if he was no-where near her. We kept in constant contact with the school and everything came to a head, when one day two or three months ago, Josh came home from school sobbing and clearly frightened. As he had walked across the school field after school to the infants area to meet Rob and the other boys, the girl he had been having problems withs mother came up to him and made an inappropriate comment.
I was so angry, and felt like my head and heart would explode...thankfully Robert was on a late shift and so was home at the time. He kept the situation calm, and encouraged me to call the school...which I did. I spoke with the pastoral care teacher and she promised that she would look into the situation and get back to us. I suggested to her that we meet with the other childs parents and resolve the whole thing once and for all and she informed me she would put this to them.
The next day she called me to say she had spoken with the other parents, and they didn't want to meet with us, as they apparently had no issue with us, and felt we're a nice family. The mother apologised for her comment to Josh which she claimed she'd meant in a tongue-in-cheek way but appreciated that a child may have taken it differently.
We accepted the apology and encouraged Josh to meet with the teacher and other child to resolve things. This happened and we felt a peace had been made....Josh seemed happier and I knew the school were very much in control of things their end...I think their headmistress and team are fantastic!
Then 4 weeks ago, Josh came home with a birthday party invitation from this particular child. I felt apprehensive about letting him go, but he was so excited that we agreed. So the next day after school, I went to the other mum and told her he would like to go and thanks for the invite. She burst into tears and apologised for everything that had happened. She told me there were alot of family problems for them, and she felt that herself and her daughter had taken it out on us...but weren't sure why. She told me that she was humbled by our GRACE and LOVING attitudes. And she also informed me that for the last month my beautiful boy had been praying with her daughter about the family issues and encouraging her. He had spoken to her about Jesus's love for her and her parents. He had witnessed to her about what Jesus done on the cross for him...us...them....YOU!
I was so overcome with pride and love for my boy that I too became emotional. We hugged (us mums) and from that moment I knew a real PEACE had come over the whole horrible situation...which we believe fully stems from Joshua defending his faith that day in class.
Wow! Just writing his little testimony makes me feel emotional. An 8 year old child...so innocent to many many things this life has to throw at him....yet so filled with Gods promises over his life and the lives of others.
The reason I wanted to honour my son for his behaviour in this situation is because like we were, I want people to be encouraged by it. All too often I see, hear, witness catty comments...adults damaging themselves and others with their words. I hate conflict...I want to raise my children to hate conflict. I don't understand people who get a thrill from it...who thrive in feeling negative and therefore pushing others away from them...I have rough days of course...we all do, but man, I think of my son and how he pushed everything this child had done to him to the side to talk with her, pray for her and love her and I just know that's how I want to constantly be. We have a duty to our children to behave in a way that is a positive Godly example to them. I want to see children constantly behaving how Josh did in that circumstance....we are that example to them. If I had retaliated by shouting at the mum...smacking her (I wouldn't have)....swearing...threatening etc...would my child have been able to have acted with the grace he did...? I think not.
Please be encouraged by this also that Gods love is here right now for each one of us. I am so proud to be a Christian and raise my kids (all 5 of them) with God by our sides, leading us and guiding us. We get things wrong...we're not perfect...Josh gets things wrong...choosing the right behaviour is a new mantra in our house...but when I think of the good things he does that we may not get to see, I know in my heart we're doing okay.
So....really....no matter what your age...your race....your story...God can and will use you. Just let Him! :)