Choosing Grace, Choosing Friends

(This post was written by Gina McClain, Director of Children’s Ministries)

We’ve spent the past month talking to our 4th & 5th graders about Forgiveness.  It’s been an interesting journey and I’m always intrigued by a young person’s perspective on the topic.  This last week hits home in a specific way for me.  You see, it’s easy to talk about forgiving those that hurt us, but the tough topic is teaching kids how and when to walk away from a friendship that may be harmful.

At this age self-consciousness and uncertainty creeps in.  As a parent, you see what was once a very confident child suddenly less certain about who they are and what they can do.  Kids at this age are less comfortable in their own skin so they look to their friends for validation.  Sometimes we’re willing to put up with what we gain from a friendship (i.e. perceived acceptance) despite the fact that it might be toxic to us.  I see some of this in my 11 year old.

Sometimes I stop for a moment and remember what it was like in the 5th grade.  How willing I was to put up with a little junk from my friends simply because I didn’t want to lose the friendship.   As a parent, I ask myself how I might encourage my son to walk in grace with everyone yet intentionally surround himself with friendships that point him to God?

God tells us to forgive people seventy times seven times. That’s a lot of forgiveness! But God also tells us that sometimes, even after forgiving someone, we may need to stop our friendship with that person. If the friend’s actions are dangerous to us; if we can’t trust the friend; or if the friend might influence us to start doing wrong things, we need to stop the friendship. That doesn’t mean we aren’t forgiving; it just means we’re wise. And, hey, if your friend really changes, you can be friends again! This week, I dare you to consider your friendships. Forgive your friends as God forgives you. But ask yourself if you need to end any of your friendships. If so, I dare you to be brave enough to do that this week.”  -Grapple Curriculum