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Monday, May 28, 2007

Playdate Evangelism

Grace and Patie were playing with a little 6 year old girl from the neighborhood named Katie last week. Katie is sweet, but I can tell she probably doesn't have a great life with her parents at home. (She's here visiting her grandparents that live next to us). Katie is extremely bored at their house and as soon as she found ours, she would've spent every minute of her vacation here if I'd let her.

On the first afternoon she was here last week the girls were playing in their room while I worked at my desk in the room next door. They were having a great time, then I heard Katie get very serious as she tried to explain something to Grace. I couldn't quite make it out, but when the conversation just kept going and going I listened in in the hallway to catch if what I thought she was saying was right before I went in. It was. She was adamantly trying to explain to Grace that if she doesn't pick up her toys, dead people will come and eat them. (There was much more to it than that- lots of details, etc. Very descriptive.). This is the kind of thing that could produce weeks of nightmares for Grace, our sensitive and emotional child. But, as I was listening in, I heard Grace keep saying, "No, they don't." and, "They don't come to my house." It was said with a tone that didn't sound like fear, but read something like, "that sounds so crazy and impossible, why do you keep insisting that it's true?" I was so proud of her for standing up to it, even though this cool, older girl kept persisting.

So, after I had heard the whole thing clearly I went in to talk to them about it. I explained to Katie that I had heard what she said and asked her if it was the truth or a lie, etc. (She felt bad right away and said it was a lie), and I told her she needed to explain to Grace that dead people won't go to anyone's house for any reason and that she was making it all up, to be sure that she didn't scare Grace, who was younger and might not know she was making it up. (I knew this was probably just a version of something someone else had told her, mixed in with a big dose of childhood imagination). She did try to explain that to Grace, in her 6-year-old way, and Grace added, "Dead people stay dead." To affirm what she'd been feeling now that Katie'd come to her senses. I tried to be really gentle about it, since I'd just met Katie and all, and didn't want her to think I was mad, but I did let her know if I heard her lying to Grace and Patie again she wouldn't be allowed to come over anymore. She apologized and I could tell she felt really bad that she'd done it. It's amazing how children who have parents that probably aren't that involved in their lives and rarely discipline them can have such a huge respect for any adult that will work something out with them lovingly (I experienced that with our other neighbor kids who've now moved away). I was worried that Katie might be scared of me or something afterward, but really, she ended up acting like she loved being here even more. (Even ringing the doorbell bright and early at 7:30 the next morning ready to come and play again. The girls sleep until 8, so she couldn't, but I was happy she was excited to get here).

Later, the girls were in the basement playing and I called down to let them know it was nap time and time for Katie to go. I heard Katie tell Grace she was sorry again and Grace said, "Yeah, only Jesus died on the cross and was alive again..." I was in the kitchen thinking, "Good job, Grace!" No, she didn't quite get to explaining the Four Spiritual Laws, but she did try to explain the truth to combat the lie- that Jesus was the only one who ever died and then was alive again. Pretty good for a 4-year-old. The conversation trailed off and I couldn't hear them anymore so I don't know what else she said, but soon they came upstairs and Katie went home.

Afterward, as I was helping Grace get set up for her nap, I talked it over with her. I told her how proud I was that she told Katie the truth no matter how many times Katie tried to make her believe a lie, and that the best part of all was that she told Katie about Jesus. I could tell Grace felt so confident that she'd done the right thing after it was over and I was so excited for her that she'd had the experience. As a parent, there is so much joy in your heart when you see your child live out in their own lives the faith that you share with them every day. She didn't know I was listening when she was standing up to Katie's lies with the truth, or when she told Katie about Jesus, but I was so thankful that God gave me the chance to listen in! It was so encouraging to hear her stand up with the truth that is in her heart, without us there to influence her. I know that Grace doesn't realize that it's a big deal to talk to someone about Jesus, because we talk about Jesus every day. It's very normal to her, so she had no reservations about talking to Katie about Him, even though she probably never hears about Jesus at home. I so hope that Grace never loses that, and that it's always a natural thing for her to tell others about Jesus, without inhibition. It's something Jim and I always want to be growing in. It was such a sweet experience to see my child be so confident in her relationship with Jesus.

1 comment:

Natalie said...

Megan - this is a really sweet story. There is no greater joy than watching your child grow in their understanding and faith! Props to Grace!

Natalie