The Harder Love

By: Lawrence Kim - Outreach Worker in Kingston-Galloway

We've been having a pretty substantial streak of great, smooth days over the past few weeks. It has definitely been a breather compared to the hectic 'just-get-through-today' days that we've been seeing during the start of the year.

Why has it been so much more restful? To be honest, it's been very easy following the suspension of a number of children. Yes, suspensions do happen, and they're a very difficult thing to do, as the whole point of what we do is to keep them at our programs and away from all the other things they can be doing. So each easy day is good yes, but it comes at a bit of a price, some kids haven't been able to come to our programs.

Honestly speaking, those recent suspensions have been a heavy burden on me, and one of the most difficult things I have had to do here. A kid breaking an outright rule, like swearing at another kids or not listening to an instruction is easy. They know what they've done wrong and they know how to fix it, and a day to think about what they've done is for the most part all they need. In this case what I was facing was a lot of disrespect and rude behaviour.

I consider myself pretty easy going and relaxed fellow, so I generally let it slide when someone makes fun of me or cracks a joke at my expense. Especially in the case of these kids, wanting to show love I try to be patient with them when they're being like this. So it was so hard coming to this decision to suspend a handful of kids for some rude and disrespectful remarks towards me. 'It's just an attitude issue' or 'It's not a big deal, not worth making a fuss over', I would reason things like these.

On the one hand, I fear for the backlash from the kids and parents, would they like me less than they already do? Maybe a suspension would actually set us back in our efforts to reach these kids. How could it be loving and showing God's love to deny them access to the very thing we want to offer to them?

But as I received advice from colleagues and prayed about it, I knew this was the right decision to be made. It is loving to be patient, I still believe that but I think it's a harder and more precious love to address someone's real needs rather than superficially fulfilling their wants, especially when it comes at a personal price. Sure they may be very angry and bitter at me, they may even hate me, but at least they're learning that such behaviour is unacceptable and will be incredibly detrimental as they grow up and face real life situations where such words can cost them their friendships or their jobs.

I think God often acts in this way, giving us what we really need as opposed to what we really want, so that we can grow.

So it's been a good couple weeks, but it's also been a difficult couple weeks, thinking about these kids that have been suspended.

Please pray for these kids, that they would overcome feelings of anger and bitterness, and that they would see the love and the purpose behind a suspension.

  • lawrence