by: Jennifer Martin
What if this year our kids truly knew they were good enough to be who they actually are, not some imagined or idealistic version of themselves?
Let's be honest, we are pushing through the end of October but due to the current circumstances, every day feels like it should be January 1. I think now is as good of a time as any to buy into my mother's mantra, "every day is a new beginning." She's not wrong. Today in our Tower Life Kids ministry we dug into the value of authentic friendship. Well, maybe we didn't dig - in a 45-minute window, you typically barely scratch the surface - but we did bring it back to God.
I would be lying if I said that my children haven't seen me wear a forced smile or use my "nice lady" phone voice in their 14 and 11 years on this earth. We all, in some way, have an idealistic version of ourselves that we use for display because it is hard to be authentic twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. What if we tried? I know that in my experience, my oldest son has shared his values publicly and was shamed in doing so. So, he chooses not to share until we are in a safe place, usually within the walls of our home or the comfort of our church.
Where do you go with THAT in children's ministry? That's the hard stuff, the stuff that we don't want to deal with because, even as adults, it is a topic that we try to avoid. If you're me, you take it back to our friendship with God.
God calls us to be authentic and to live in His likeness and His light. If we want our children to know that they are good enough as they are and to know that they don't have to wear a mask to make friends, children must also know that they can make a choice. It's a difficult choice, but a choice that bears a domino effect on many of the choices we make as we grow. Think of it as a braid. It doesn't matter what kind of braid; braided rope, pipe cleaners, dental floss, even Butter Braids. If you don't know what a Butter Braid is, please let me know. I will direct you to the most delicious braided pastry that fundraising can buy. Wow! (Sorry about that, the stomach took over for a minute!)
Anyway, look at the pieces of that braid. You can't braid with only one strand, you must have at least three. Now consider what you will be using that braid for; braided dental floss won't hold your body weight if you need to climb a mountain. You must choose the right material to make the braid strong enough for the task it is facing.
Friendship is like that braid. An authentic relationship with God must be a strand in the braid if we expect friendship to be strong enough to weather the storms that life can bring. We need Him for every task, in every season of our lives.
"A friend loves at all times. They are here to help when trouble comes" Proverbs 17:17, NIrV
-Jennifer Martin is the Children's Ministry Director for Tower Life Center.