Everyone faces difficult circumstances and situations. I have been working on surrendering life circumstances that are out of my control to God for the past couple decades… and I thought I was making pretty good progress… until couple weeks ago.
I don’t stress easily. I’m typically not known to be emotional. Yes, I have had my moments of stress and being emotional (and I attribute part of my emotional roller coaster as of late to my medication… really… I’m not kidding! it’s listed as one of side effects!). I’m logical enough to know analyze what is in my control and what isn’t. I’ve learned not to stress over things that’s beyond my control. I’ve learned to turn those situations over to God, seek discernment, do my best to follow God’s leading, and just chill. Theoretically, when I surrender circumstances to God, I’m also suppose to have peace.
Well, couple weeks ago, I had asked God to take control over a certain circumstance in my life… and at the moment, I did feel peace. However, my emotions kept creeping up on me… I felt frustrated, confused, saddened, and even angry. I even found myself crying myself to sleep one night–what in the world??? But I had surrendered this whole situation to God! What’s going on? Why am I being emotional (besides the meds…)? And then I had an epiphany. Is it possible that I hadn’t surrendered all of myself to God regarding this situation? Is it possible that while I’m waiting for God to take care of the situation, I’m holding onto my emotions? To be honest, I don’t even know what this all means… Does it mean I haven’t really even entrusted the situation to God but that I was just fooling myself? Or that I’ve only given partial to God? Or is it normal to hold the emotions to myself while surrendering the situation to God?
I’m still processing all this… and what does it mean to surrender my emotions to God? and do I know that I have fully surrendered my emotions to God by the peace that follows? I’m literally thinking out loud here (and it’s 1 am). I talk to God almost every day and ask Him to take control of the circumstance as well as my emotions… I believe God blessed me with emotions so I can feel… and regardless of the negative emotions, He wants me to respond in God-honoring ways. So what do I do with the confusion, the frustration, the sadness, and anger?
I don’t have the answer here (well, I have the churchy-answer… give it all to God!). But practically speaking, I don’t have the real answer… but in the meantime, all I know is that I have to keep talking to God about it…
You’re hanging out at your friend’s house with your 2-year old child. You’re so engrossed in your conversation. Couple minutes later, you look for your child and he/she is missing. Sudden panic sets in. I am not a parent, but I’ve definitely had those moments while I was responsible for taking care of my young cousins or kids in my children’s ministry.
Well, the panic that you’d feel in this scenario is probably the panic that a child would feel when he/she looks for a parent and is nowhere to be found. I see this often… parents sneak out of the room on Sundays at church when their child is preoccupied. It makes them feel good knowing that their child is happy and playing when they leave. What they fail to realize is that when the child looks for their security in their parents and they’re missing, their whole world falls apart. They haven’t had enough life experience to know that his/her parent will come back! As far as they’re concerned, they’ve just been abandoned.
This is why I encourage parents to give their child hugs and kisses and assure them that they’ll come back after they sing and listen to God’s Word just as the kids do the same with their friends. I tell them that it’s okay if they cry. Whether they stay for 2 minutes or 20 minutes, the kids will still cry just the same. In fact, the best way to alleviate separation anxiety is consistency!
My Early Childhood Core Member came up with a fantastic adjustment plan for our kids in infants and toddlers room that deal with separation anxiety. A sample one looks like this:
Week 1: Parent stays the entire time in class but sits on the side rather than playing with the child. This will allow the child to explore and interact with other children and leaders with security.
Weeks 2, 3, & 4: Same as Week 1
Week 5: Parent stays for one hour then leaves
Week 6: Parent stays for 30 minutes and leaves
Week 7: Parent stays for 15 minutes and leaves
Week 8: Parent drops off and leaves
Of course, we adjust depending on the child… Some kids have adjusted in 3 weeks while others have taken longer. But this is a starting point guideline. 8 weeks is a long time (I know, it’s 2 months) but we want children to associate church/Sunday school with positive feelings rather than a place where they’re abandoned by their parents!
I share this to say… please always try to think about the situation from the child’s point of view. I know it’s been a long time since we’ve been kids… but we can’t treat them older than they are. One parent said to me “I want my child to know what I know.” To which I said “There’s a reason why he is 10 and you’re in your 40s.”
It’s been 3 full months since I last blogged… I keep thinking “I have to write about that…” and then life gets busy–super busy!!! okay… I also get distracted–super distracted!!!
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, contemplating, and analyzing lately… and I thought I needed to re-start writing down my thoughts again… at least for my benefit! But where do I start? Hmmm… I thought I’d start with some things I have learned, experienced, felt, and thought in the past 3 months. These are random thoughts in no particular order. Some are fun (or funny), some are serious. Some are shallow, some are deep. Some are just plain silly…
- Disneyland really is magical!
- It’s really hard to lose weight when you love food as much as I do.
- I’m ridiculously blessed with some of the most amazing girlfriends in the world!
- When there is a good purpose, I don’t mind losing sleep to get things done.
- Easter reminded me that it was worth losing sleep to prepare to help people experience Jesus.
- Sleep, however, is under-rated! I really do love sleep.
- The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak… really weak… (sigh…)
- Kids are more than capable of experiencing Jesus in a personal way! When I hear stories of kids experiencing Jesus, it puts the biggest smile on my face.
- I feel alive when I’m challenged to think of ways to make Jesus real to kids!
- I really miss traveling and experiencing new people, place, and food!
- I think I may be a bit obsessed with juicing.
- I have the most amazing ministry friends in the world that challenges me!
- I go to a messy church with messy people… but it’s all good cuz I’m pretty messed up myself.
- Consistency is so important in helping toddlers and preschoolers overcome separation anxiety. But it’s totally possible!
- I also feel alive when I get to train, equip, and develop kidmin leaders and volunteers!
- Clear communication is soooooooo important!
- You can never over-communicate!
- Maturity has very little to do with age! I’ve met more mature 20-year olds than 55-year olds. Sad but true…
- We all have massive baggage… we all need help!
- I’m a lot more selfish than I thought I was. It was kind of traumatizing to come to that realization.
- Most Asians aren’t used to a loud, opinionated Asian girl who speaks her mind. I really do have filter… most of the time…
- I really am an introvert… I’m just good at pretending to be an extrovert.
- Why can’t someone figure out how to keep my lashes long without having to use latisse or revitalash every day?
- I really wish I could get a massage every week… I think that would contribute to staying healthy and sane!
- It really brings me joy when I get to introduce people to my favorite foods!
- People are difficult!
- It’s really a lot of work to grow in relationships with people… and that’s really what I spend a lot of my time doing… God’s amazing/cruel sense of humor…
- I hope to have a sense of humor like God!
- I wish I had “delete all and start over” button… I wish it almost every week…
- One day, I’ll just wake up and head to the gym instead of thinking “I really should get up and go to the gym.” I hope that day comes this month!
Last week, I blogged about why I don’t make kids say sorry. We don’t merely want to teach kids behavior, rather we want them to know how their actions affect other children and help kids grow in their spiritual formation even through conflict. Similarly, I also don’t come to rescue every child who is upset or having conflict with another child. Often times, kids are told to “tell the teacher” when conflicts arise with other children. Of course there are times when an adult needs to step in. However, what I see too often are kids who haven’t developed the skills to talk through issues with their peers.
For example, we have a big tv with wii hooked up to it on Sundays so kids can play outside of ministry time (we have a lot of kids lingering while their parents fellowship). It’s there for the kids to play and enjoy! But the problem is, only so many kids can play at once… and they’re not always good about taking turns. Inevitably, I always have a child whining and complaining about how their turn was skipped. I could make everyone get in line and take a number. I could ask each child what their version of the story is. Rather, I tell them that they need to figure out a way to make this work amongst themselves. Our game supplies are a privilege we have through generous donations. It’s not our right… thus if they can’t figure out how to play together and take turns, then the privilege will be taken away. I would say, 8 out of 10 conflicts that are brought to my attention are something the children can resolve on their own. When it’s appropriate, we also take the time to discuss this teachable moment. We talk about how our faith and obedience to God plays into our decisions of resolving conflict.
The truth is… we do ministry to kids and family because we want to guide them to learn about God and love Him more and more… but when you’re doing life with the kids and families, every day stuff just comes up! If we’re not applying biblical principles to our every day life stuff, then our ministries become irrelevant! Thus, ministry isn’t just about our Bible lessons… but it becomes about applying our Bible to every day stuff–including learning conflict resolution skills!