Friends, this has been a hard week for our family, our church family, and our community. We’ve had to face deep sadness. We’ve had to look death in the face. We’ve experienced gut-wrenching hurt and watch those we love experience the deepest pain.
In all of that, we’ve also seen God’s hand of grace through the body of Christ. I’ve watched as people have gathered around a hurting family with respect, honor, and love, being the hands and feet of Christ. Praying together for them, loving them in practical and meaningful ways.
These words I wrote last year have taken on new life and meaning for me. Perhaps if you find yourself in a place where you need to answer hard questions that children might ask, they can help you too.
We can’t let the sadness of the moments and our own confusion and doubt keep us from fully engaging with our kids. To brush them off in this moment will leave them hurting and wondering, having to sort through on their own the fears and worries they can’t understand. In these moments, we must take the time away from distraction to look them in the eyes, answer their hard questions as best we can, and gently lead them to the heart of Christ through prayer and love.
What can we as adults do when the questions come?
1. Process with them – There may be a lot of questions, there may be only one. They may just want to talk. Let them download on you rather than keep it inside. In their innocence, it may appear as though these things aren’t affecting them deeply so you may want to brush over it and “not make a big deal about it.” My heart in this is – it’s worth making a big deal about. Give them the space to process with you and know that they are not alone. (For a more in-depth article on tips for taking with kids about death, click here)
2. Protect them – Kids are vulnerable to fears in ways adults aren’t because their minds don’t know how yet to separate reality from imagination. When fear is made manifest, combat with with love. The Bible says “Perfect love casts out fear.” If need be, remind them of that favorite movie from last year where the heroine was defeated when fear ruled but victorious when love won (just don’t tell them to “Conceal don’t feel” – worst parenting advice ever)! Be present with them and let them know they are safe with you and that no matter what, they are never alone.
3. Pray with them – Even if your conversation is only a few seconds long, don’t end it without saying, “Hey buddy, you know what, let’s pray for those people right now.” Not only are you inviting God’s presence into the situation, you are teaching a valuable lesson about where to turn when life’s troubles come our way. It will leave a lasting impression on their heart.
Friends, there are no easy answers. When hearts are broken, we can only turn to one place for healing. As we process the next few days and we consider our own hearts in these matters, let us model for our children what is is to be the Body of Christ.
For more information about
- Kids in Worship
- Determining which Type of Family Ministry model works best for your church
- Encouraging the continued conversation through Practical Discipleship at Home
- And much more!
About the author
Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, Seedbed, and ChildrensMinistryBlog.com.