It's Been a Hard School Year
As we minister to children and youth this summer – whether in camps, VBS programs, or in any other capacity – we may find ourselves ministering to children, young people, and even adults who feel saddened or anxious about events of this past school year. Those to whom we minister may need time and space to express emotions, wrestle with questions of how and why these events happened, or maybe just talk about these events.
Listening, grieving, and making space for hard questions is something we as Christians can do for others facing emotional pain or fear. While we do not want to try to function as therapists or psychologists, as human beings of compassion, we can listen and give children and youth opportunities to express their emotions and deal with pain they may feel in response to difficult events in our world.
After the terrorist attacks of 2001 and the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, we now have a wealth of collective experience in how to minister to others after a tragedy. Those who have done this ministry suggest listening as a primary tool in helping people of all ages cope with a tragedy. We aren't expected to "fix" situations or have all the answers to huge theological questions. We just need to open our hearts and our ears and make space for people to talk.
Other activities help as well. Art projects or journaling exercises are opportunities to "vent" in a healthy way. Free intercessions during prayer times invite people of all ages to tell God what they really care about. Pitching in to help others often empowers us to feel more confident and able to cope with our own pain.
This summer, I hope we all are able to be the hands and fee of Christ, making a safe space both for ourselves and others to cope and wrestle with sorrows of the past school year. I hope we are able to truly embrace and live Christ's resurrection as a symbol of moving forward and putting our trust and our hope in God, despite all our fears, our anxieties, our questions, and our sorrows.