By Steph, Outreach Worker at Kinston-Galloway
This past month has taught me the importance of repeating daily reminders to yourself
as you persevere through trials and hardship. Over the past few months, Esther and I have
had to practice a lot of “tough love”. As much as we’d hope that they’d understand and accept
the consequences willingly – that is rarely the case. There have been many evenings after
leaving programs that I have found myself wrestling with my decisions, simply because of how
upset our kids/youth were in response to them. Whenever I felt uneasy about my decision to
send a child home, or give them a stern talk or consequence because of their behaviour, I
have to remind myself that I must not undermine my decision just because they don’t agree
with me at the time. I had to remind myself that because he/she is not getting what they
wanted, they are going to be upset about it. I had to remind myself that permissiveness
can often make things worse and it isn’t good for the wellbeing of the child. I also had to remind myself of how I respond to the Lord whenever He prunes, shapes, and molds me in ways I am uncomfortable with or just outright disagree with at times because I just can’t understand. Then I’m reminded that the Lord disciplines those He loves; and as we seek His wisdom and guidance in our own leadership at programs, we can also strive to reflect the same love that God shows to us. We may not always see the fruit right away, but on days when a child or youth leaves angry or upset, I must remind myself to take heart that the Lord is at work in their hearts just as He is in mine.
We must persevere and not give in just because we receive opposition. Esther and I
see this so evidently when we teach our kids new games – the instant we mention it,
complaints and threats of not playing altogether come at us from every angle, but we have to
remind ourselves to stay firm and see it through anyway. Now, you have to understand that our
gym games time is when we have to deal with the most conflict, anger, and behaviour
management. It is one of the most intense times of the day, and we have to do a great deal of
proactive behaviour mitigation. The kids love dodgeball; and the second we mention
something besides dodgeball, we have to brace ourselves for huge opposition. However, if we
gave in (like we did at first), the kids would not learn to try new things, or to endure when things didn’t go their way. Rather we would be teaching them that if they object enough, we’ll cave. So now, though we anticipate the inevitable refusals to play a new game, we still follow through with our plans. It’s never easy, but when we get everyone on board and play, the kids end up having a lot of fun. Last week, we played a game that the kids vocalized they “did not like playing”. Yet they were incredibly successful with learning invaluable life lessons, like how to play as a team; how to participate even when they don’t want to; and how to have fun, knowing that whether they win or lose, it’s just a game.
The reality is that the life lessons we need are not easily learned. They don't come naturally to us, but they require struggle as we wrestle with our fleshly desires and tendencies. It’s never pretty, but it’s necessary. Though we may try to explain our decisions as transparently as we can to the kids, in hopes that they will understand that we’re trying to be fair, they may not be able to understand that right now. I have to remind myself to take courage as we wait upon the Lord to work in hearts, which we are so limited in doing. Through the struggle, we are reminded that we can only go to God for strength and guidance. God has been so good and gracious to us and our kids. As Esther and I pray fervently, we can see our prayers answered in different ways and in different lives each week.