Truth, Anger, Bitterness, Kindness: Imitating Christ

One of my favorite Tumbler/Twitter montages
isIron Man “Reasons my kid is Crying”. Great pictures of poor kids having meltdowns for ridiculous reasons.  In my work with children, youth, and families at churches, after school, and summer camp I have witnessed many of these difficult moments.  It’s hard not to laugh at these, as small people try to deal with lots of emotions boiling over inside them.  
             In the letter to the Ephesians, some of these complex emotions are addressed in how Christians should approach them.
Truth – “Let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another” (4:25)
Anger – “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger” (4:26)
Bitterness – “Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice,” (4:31)
Kindness – “and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” (4:32) 

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us” (5:1-2) 

Seems so simple… yet as we all know, it isn’t.
                Conversation and games are great ways to help children of all ages develop emotional intelligence and empathy – skills that will help them interact with others as well as communicate their own feelings, wants, and needs.
                When working with children, I keep in mind that it is very difficult for young people (and adults…) to deal with the complex emotions we feel in life.  One skill I have learned is to simply listen to a child when they are upset.  To ask them if they are feeling sad, or upset, or angry.  Letting another explain their emotions is one way for them to process by sharing, and also helps to clarify to teachers, parents, and others the feelings of that child that can often be assumed.
                 The advice from Ephesians helps give some guidance once we have identified some of these emotions in ourselves.  Anger is not bad, we should feel anger in different situations.  Yet we must also remember to be kind and love others as Christ would.  At United Church in Rogers Park, children are taught when they are angry to 1 – stop, and 2 – think.  Taking deep breaths, walking away, and coming up with creative solutions to problems are all ways that we work through difficult situations when we are angry.  How we teach these skills to children are critical.
           I wonder what tips and tricks your family has used to help process emotions in your home?
           I wonder how we encourage young people to work through and not ignore their emotions?
           I wonder how we as adults model processing emotions?
           I wonder what ways we can look to Christ and Christ’s love as an example?

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