Some of the children in our communities will be carrying deep wounds. Incidentally these children are often the ones who will act out.
Can I make a bold suggestion? Set aside two adults and a quiet spot. Look for and invite two adults to be a listening presence to children during class time. Creating a sacred space where children who are hurting can come and talk with an adult is much needed in our churches where we have for the most part ignored the pain of children.
Shaking our heads and saying, “Poor baby,” is not enough.
This sacred spot might look like two chairs and a cross. It might look like a candle and a stuffed animal. It might include items like blank paper and crayons, bubbles or a finger labyrinth. In this space the adult can say to child,
“Tell me why you are sad.”
This is not a spot for lectures, or teaching, or even sharing our own stories. In this spot the children are sharing and the adult is listening and praying for the Spirit to do what the Spirit does best and comfort this hurting child. The hurts that are shared may seem incidental or monumental. Our job is to listen without judgment.
A child may share something with you that requires action. Talk of abuse should be taken seriously and shared immediately with your pastor or the child abuse hotline.
When the child has finished sharing the adult can ask the child,
“Would you like to talk with God?”
This is where the paper and crayons are helpful. Depending on your supplies, a shallow dish of sand can be a place to draw a prayer to God, so can paints and paper, or bubbles, where children can blow their prayer to God. Even finger labyrinths can be places children can tell their hurts to God.
Encircle the children gracious Christ.
Where there is brokenness bring healing.
Where there is anxiety bring comfort.
Where there is loneliness bring your presence.
We know you love the children and we trust you. Amen.
*This bright idea didn't come from my brain, but from the heart of Leanne Hadley. I heard her speak about it at a conference.