It's been a rough week for Tyler. He came home from school last week sharing some of the playground antics he and the other boys have been participating in. Last year recess was all about spy club, ninja warrior club, and Lego Nijago club. Yes, lots of clubs. This year they "just hang out and mess around." Nice and vague.
There appears to be a kid who used to be a friend (not last year's frenemy), but now declares to everyone within hearing distance that Tyler is weird. I've been reminding him that, like it or not, we are all a little weird. When I asked him what he thought normal was, he admitted that he couldn't tell me because, "What is normal to us, might not be to other people." Ok, somehow that lesson sunk in.
One afternoon last year I asked Tyler if he was making sure that anyone who wants to join their club could. "You aren't excluding anyone, right?" He assured me that no one was being excluded; that once the club members prayed to "have Jesus live in their hearts" they were free to join any and all clubs.
Imagine my wide-eyed surprise, mouth gaping open. While it is sweet that he was such an evangelist (questionable theology, aside), my mind immediately went to what are those kids' parents going to think? Then, just as quickly, do I need to be worrying about this? Then, I don't want him to ever be ashamed of his faith, how do I encourage healthy (not to mention Biblically accurate) sharing? Followed by "!!!!!!!!!!" I won't lie, part of me wonders if this new label stems from his beliefs. We have discussed a few things about this recently.
First, I am trying to make sure Tyler understands that you cannot compel someone to believe in Jesus, especially to gain entrance into a club. That would be a cult. (Oh, great my kid was running a playground cult!) We have been trying to make sure that Tyler knows the difference between sharing his faith and ramming it down people's throats. He is struggling with the concept, only because right now in his little boy mind, Christianity makes more sense than it doesn't. He genuinely does not understand why someone wouldn't just jump at the chance to follow Jesus. As he gets older, and doubt creeps in, he will have more understanding of the unique gift belief is. But for now he has the faith of a child. Beautiful stuff.
Second, it is really important to Aaron and I that our kids understand biblical tolerance; the idea that we must tolerate, respect and love people with different views, even while we may not agree with or respect the view itself, and certainly even if they may not tolerate or respect ours. This is a hard one, because people have already been telling him what he believes is wrong. That is ok with us, becuase we get to talk about what we believe, why we believe it, and then our kids get to decide for themselves, each step of the way, if they will continue this walk. It isn't easy, but oh so necessary.
Third, I have been talking about what it meas to be "unequally yoked" (2 Cor 6:14).
14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?This verse is traditionally applied to speak to marriages where one partner is a believer while the other is not. Really the passage could be about any close relationship. "Partnership" and "fellowship" implies intimacy, not necessarily just in marriage. I have been telling Tyler that he needs to be mindful of who he trusts, who he considers his best friend and who he chooses to seek advice from. Non-believers can certainly be trustworthy, best-friend material and wise, but I want him to consider why he might place his trust in someone who does not hold the Jesus he loves in as high a place in their heart as he does. I think no matter what you believe, we can agree it is harder to maintain a close, intimate, deep relationship with someone who does not believe that what you hold most dear (whatever it may be) to be truth.
He's coming home less and less bothered by the playground antics and hopefully more and more sure of the treasure we think he is and we know God thinks he is.