I taught the middle school Sunday school class a few years ago. I love middle schoolers, once I remember that there is nothing I can do to make them like me. And once I've been there long enough for them to know that I like them anyway. I have a pet peeve, or two, about Sunday school that I attempt to rectify as a teacher.
The stories. The Bible is full of stories and so often they are sanitized and told and read in church voice. All the blood and guts, fear and elation, and adventure with the God of the universe who wants to live with us is read in monotone, "holy" voice. I sorta hate it, so when I teach we talk about the gore and the celebration in detail. It is why I teach middle school and not pre-school. (Though my little boy thrills at the blood and guts.)
And the thinking. Jesus taught with stories. His listeners were expected to hear not just the words and not just the story but the point of the story. They were supposed to wrestle with their hearts and their minds and their Lord to figure out why He told the story and what they were to learn about Him and themselves.
So, my Sunday school students quickly became aware of the fact that we weren't going to be newscasters in our study of Scripture and that we were going to study the Word. And they were going to go on the journey themselves.
It just goes to reason, then, that my children get the same treatment. We are going to wrestle in this family with our hearts and with our minds and with the Lord and prayerfully come out changed.
So when Abigail inserted her dilemma--feeling that God was neglecting her request--into our evening prolonging bedtime. I asked a question instead of shooing her away which was my desire, and bedtime was rescheduled. She struggles with being bossy. Indeed she, it would seem, wants to run the world. She has been bothered by this tendency even going so far as to ask her friends to help her by pointing out when she is being too bossy. She shared that she had asked God for self-control so she would not be too bossy, and He hadn't helped her.
My heart broke for her, but I felt a little nudge. Why is she being bossy?
Because if everyone doesn't know the rules, something terrible will happen. Because if everyone isn't getting along and playing together, something terrible will happen. Because the stress caused by conflict, even if she isn't directly involved, among her friends makes her miserable.
And a light shown in the darkness of our previous advice to her. Her bossiness isn't a self-control issue. Her bossiness comes from fear. And fear comes from dis-belief. She is afraid that her world will fall apart (and no one will catch her).
So we talk some more. She is allowed to stop trying to control the bossy and she is allowed to ask for more belief. Isn't that what the dad does when he is terrified that his son's life is slipping through his fingers, "Lord, help my unbelief."? And she is can be sure that He is delighted to answer such a prayer. A prayer asking for more of HIM in her.
And we would never have gotten to the heart of the issue without listening to her story, nor would we have had an answer without listening to His stories.