Melissa hesitated to answer. It was the dreaded phone call from the mother of the boy her 6-year-old foster child had just punched in the face on the school playground.
Melissa’s family brought Joey into their home 2 years ago while his mother tackled the consequences of her addictions. Their family loves really well even welcoming Joey’s mother into their house every Friday for an overnight while she works through her recovery.
Joey therefore looks forward to Fridays all week. Friday was a special day. Friday had significance. He knew that he would be with his mama. He didn’t see her struggles, just the face of a woman who he loved.
But 2 weeks ago, Friday came and went, and mama didn’t come…didn’t even call. Then again last Friday, no word from her. She had a setback in her recovery.
Melissa humbly answered her cell ready to apologize for Joey’s playground punch.
Any parent knows that terrible feeling when your child has wronged somebody else’s beloved child. It’s not a fun place to be.
But before Melissa could speak, the other mother began,
“Hi, it’s Tam. We were hoping Joey could come over this afternoon for a playdate. We want to make sure he knows how much we still love him.”
I imagine Melissa’s mind went something like this,
“My foster child just closed-fist punched your son in the face two hours ago, and you are inviting him over for a playdate… today? So he feels loved?”
I burst into tears hearing this.
Can we just pause at her response?
Oh the love!
So much beauty is said through her words. What if we met the people in our life with a love like that? A love filled with grace and mercy that doesn’t turn when we stumble. A love that says when you wrong me, I still love you.
What if we met other people’s children with a grace like that?
The teenager that texted inappropriately
The middle school clique filled with girl drama and gossip
The bully on the school bus
Our instinct is to pull back.
To ultimately feel better about our own children and parenting.
But what if we leaned in as a community, not with judgment but GRACE and LOVE?
What would change?
A book that has rocked my world in understanding grace is “Parenting A Wholehearted Child” by Jeannie Cunnion. If you desire to better understand how the grace of God can radically change your family, read it.
We don’t know the hidden stories and unseen struggles of the people around us. We often see their actions, not the pain in their heart.
For the 6-year-old foster boy longing to see his mother at week’s end… what was it that caused him to lash out?
Just 3 innocent words spoken by his friend.
“It’s not Friday.”
And with that his heartbreak came out in a punch.
But because one woman chose to lean in, he was met with what he really needed…Love.
- Kids need other adults speaking truth into them. This is especially important as children reach middle and high school. Often teenagers hear things from teachers, coaches, and other adults they might not receive from their parents. It is a different role than the parent yet can back them up by reinforcing truths from a different angle.
Andy Stanley once said, to have influence in a person’s life, we must start with a relationship. We need a relationship before our words will ever have influence. At that point, loving correction can help children see that although their actions may seem justified, there are consequences to poor choices. Our goal is not simply acceptance but changed future behavior.
- We have the opportunity to affirm in children who they truly are, not who their missteps dictate they are. It is a powerful moment when a child understands their identity is not based on performance or actions, but on who they are as a child of God, forgiven and covered in grace.
- The easiest way to show love to your friends, is to love their children wholeheartedly. Invest in those relationships. I feel most loved in my life when my friends graciously and compassionately lean into my children when they stumble. They offer hugs, encouragement, guidance and speak truth into their souls.
This is community.
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