Introduction: Practicing Kindness, Empathy, and Prayer
“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care…” 1 Peter 5: 1-4
I think we can all agree this election cycle has been long. Last week’s elections brought both a historic upset and some challenges to our personal relationships.
Plus, my children are more aware this election cycle. They are older, for sure, but this election has been a topic of conversation everywhere and impossible even for our children to ignore completely.
If you’re looking for some ideas about how to talk with your kids in this unusual aftermath or prepare for conversation with extended family at Thanksgiving, I’ve made a short list of ideas for how to handle this post-election season.
*Disclaimer: This is not intended to be a political post. I have no desire to move you on or off of your ideals or convictions. This is simply an encouragement in the greater responsibility of exampling Christ’s teachings in everyday conversations to our children and those we see everyday.
Make Room for Kindness
Not much, it seems, is as personal as religious and political beliefs. Political beliefs are incredibly personal because they are a reflection of our conscience, our upbringing, our beliefs, our experiences, and our hopes. It’s easy to be passionate about them, to disagree strongly about them, and to feel frustrated when others do not share our particular point of view.
As we move forward as a country, remind your children there is always room for kindness in our speech and our actions. Our children will face people for the rest of their lives who believe differently than they and we have a great opportunity right now to model kindness in the face of disagreement – even when someone else isn’t being particularly kind. Let’s allow our faith to color our everyday speech online, around the water cooler, and at the dinner table too.
A great place to start is by reading the book of 1 John with your children. In his letter, John reminded us that God is love and as disciples we are to be known by our love. When Paul wrote the church in Corinth, he lists love’s many attributes and kindness is up at the top. As children of God and shepherds of our children’s hearts, let’s be restrained (on and offline) and be known by our love.
America is a vast and beautiful land full of incredibly different people with different stories. We have a great opportunity right now to teach our children empathy. Empathy is simply being sensitive to another person’s life, experiences, and emotions. We value their story as our own. For instance, our family lives in an inner city area and my daughter’s school has a high number of Hispanic children as well as Burmese and others in attendance. These families are intimately affected by policies on immigration and children are at the mercy of adults and the decisions they make. I want my daughter, and our family, to hear her friends’ stories and be empathetic to their hurts and fears and to respond to them with compassion.
We do not have to agree with someone to be compassionate. Jesus showed compassion to those around him constantly, whether they were for him or not. Jesus did not watch us under the weight of our sin and burdens – he carried them as his own. He responded in compassion to humanity and provided rest for our weary souls.
Let us be like our heavenly father and practice empathy together as a family and be moved toward the action of compassion.
It’s good to remember that our mightiest weapon is prayer.
Recently I was putting my 11 year old and 10 year old to bed. I asked them to pick someone to pray for and was bothered by their flippant responses. I was not interested in simply praying, “God bless so and so,” I wanted them to recognize the opportunity to pray and see change. For them to take the opportunity to look around them and listen for direction. Some of their friend’s from school have an incarcerated family member, how can we pray for their needs and see God move? Is someone sick? Let’s pray and believe there is a powerful response coming to our prayers.
Are you frustrated or offended with someone in the aftermath of the election? It sounds crazy, but the way to release your offense is often by praying for the very person who upset you. Offense and bitterness trap the one offended and bitter. It does nothing to guilty person. Praying has a way of softening our heart, releasing us from the prison of offense, and making us free.
We are all feeling so many different emotions after this election. Let’s listen and pray for each other. Let’s have hope that our offense will be released. Remember, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to us – we should always expect great things.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave a comment below or email me at sarah@seedsfamilyworship.