November feels like a short month doesn’t it? We scramble to complete work and school projects, finish up autumn sports seasons, and create Christmas shopping lists before Thanksgiving launches us into the holiday season. But before weariness sets in from checking off all the “to do” list items, take a pause from the whirlwind to be thankful and remember what matters most--showing God’s love to people around us. A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. ~Proverbs 17:17 ESV
What does it look like to model good friendship to our kids, even in difficult times? Dare I say it? It means inconveniencing ourselves and showing our kids how we can love someone who doesn’t love well in return. Take the high road when in conversations this month--and not just when you are sitting around the holiday table feasting on turkey. Be loving when talking about that difficult friend or family member while in the privacy of your own home. Our kids are listening and watching how we handle the joy and strife of relationships, and it’s always best to handle these delicate situations with prayer and humility.
We can get inspiration for these conversations from our Bible stories this month...we are following King David’s story in our Epic Kids classes. David certainly had it harder than the rest of us! This guy goes from littlest shepherd to promise of kingship to playing lyre for and then hiding out in caves from an ever-envious King Saul who plots to kill him. Praise God that David had the friendship of Jonathan to boost his spirits in dark times!
We can all learn how to handle difficult people and situations from David. When given the opportunity to say something negative about someone, we can choose to pause and pray. We don’t need to cause more pain and hurt, and instead speak the truth in love. Also remember, David didn’t remain in Saul’s presence--he took care of his mental health! We can distance ourselves from toxic people until they are able to have respectful interactions.
David also taught us how to repent and ask God for forgiveness for the sins we’ve committed. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. ~Psalm 51: 10-12 ESV This entire psalm has been key in my relationship with the Lord, and as a parent was critical in lovingly teaching my kids how to own their part in sin and to restore relationships through forgiveness.
Friendship and forgiveness are tied together. We show God’s love to others and can become better friends when we forgive people in our lives, even when that looks and feels messy. I still remember a time when a friend and her child, who at the time was struggling with anger issues, visited our home. When my friend told her child to prepare to depart, the child became angry and ripped a large map we had on our wall. Mortified, my friend profusely apologized, which I appreciated, but I went to the child and expressed our love, working to calm the emotions. Later this child replaced the map and told us that our reaction and forgiveness helped in restoring our relationship and we all grew to be closer friends.
We must remember that, despite all our flaws, we are chosen by God, deeply loved, and through Jesus are able to love people. Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. ~Colossians 3:12 CSB
In this month where we focus on thankfulness, let’s also exercise our forgiveness muscles, showing love to friends and family members even in adverse situations. Who knows? Your holiday celebration could be replete with more than an abundance of turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. You could be thanking God for more joy than ever experienced before at Thanksgiving as people previously at odds with each other demonstrate respect and love.
We hope this monthly blog is encouraging for your family. For more week-to-week information on Epic Kids @ Home family lessons, activities, and prayer prompts, please visit the Kids page on our website and join our Epic Family Facebook Group. We post resources each week to support your family in Bible study.
Full of gratitude,