I got a call from the school a few months ago from my daughter’s teacher. She proceeded to tell me that she had gotten a call from a mother of a student in her class complaining about my daughter telling her about Jesus. She said that she was concerned that Leigha was losing a friend and not realizing the impact of her words on this friend. She had been asked by the mother to have Leigha stop sharing her faith with her friend.
Don’t get me wrong, this teacher is a Christian and did not intend to discourage our daughter from sharing her faith, but was being mandated to take action due to school policy. She had called us because she was concerned about how to present it to Leigha without doing damage. Her primary concern was that Leigha was losing a friend without realizing it.
So I asked Leigha a number of questions about what she was talking with her friends at school about. I indicated that there were times where her faith might cause friends who didn’t agree to get upset but that it was ok. I also indicated that there were times when staying aware and sensitive to what they wanted to hear was a good idea.
These things were VERY hard to share with an 8 year old because for her everything is black and white.
Faith is real, Jesus is real and the lack of faith = eternity in hell.
She sincerely cared too much for her friends NOT to tell them. I felt I had reached a balance that would at least open her eyes to being sensitive, particularly since freedom of speech would not permit any teacher, parent or student to actually mandate that she stop.
I shared the situation with my wife, and unfortunately there was a certain degree of miscommunication. She talked openly with Leigha about the specifics of who and why because she thought I had done so too, this wasn’t bad but was VERY difficult for Leigha to understand. The blatant possibility of losing a friend threw Leigha for a loop.
Leigha’s found herself in a spiral of confusion lead her to question her faith and her friendships. She said if she was going to lose friends then she would never share her faith with her friends again. I did my best to talk her through the likely reality that it wasn’t her friend that had the problem as much as her parents. This did a lot for her and she was able to keep maintaining her friendship throughout this process.
Needless to say it was an ordeal where we couldn’t react too strongly and couldn’t rush her along in her processing.
On the bright side, the friend that had complained wasn’t turned off of the friendship and Leigha managed to see the potential of a continued friendship with the of faith being off limits, in spite of the fact that her heart longed for her friend to find the salvation that she had. It’s a perfect teaching point for an opportunity to allow love to speak without words.
It took a number of months but through some friends who attend Pioneer clubs with her, she was encouraged and spurred on to pray for all of the kids in her class that didn’t know Jesus.
Guess what? In the last month or so Leigha has been sharing her faith with a different classmate. When the complaining friend hears and tells her to stop; she replies with “I’m not talking to you-________” and continues in the discussion. After all, her friend can’t complain on behalf of someone else.
It actually all started when the Gideons came to the classroom. They presented and offered forms to the kids so that they could request a new testament. Leigha saw a girl check yes (apparently in the midst of a classroom of kids mocking the concept). This later lead to a number of discussions in the playground about how the first person was created and other similar questions Leigha had the answers to.
Before we knew it Leigha bought her friend a bible (offering to take the money out of her Christmas presents), brought her to church AND prayed with her friend to receive Jesus.
WOW! I am humbled. At her boldness, faith, and faithfulness in the midst of her own persecution.
May we all find the drive and courage to share our hope with those around us.
A humbled parent