As soon as he came out of school my heart sank. My son’s shoulders had dropped and his whole demeanour oozed sadness…
That was back in July and it became the start of an exceedingly difficult few months with our son, who is 9. We had been told that the two classes in his year group were going to be mixed up for the new academic year, but had been assured that friendship groups would be taken into consideration.
He had just found out that he didn’t have any of his three close friends in his class. And he was devastated.
What followed was weeks of crying himself to sleep. He ended that school year a different boy – less confident, no longer wanting to go back to school, questioning the point of prayer. His behaviour over the summer holidays was challenging in a way we’d not seen before too.
He really struggled to deal with the change emotionally – and we struggled to parent him through it at times.
Turning to prayer
As soon as we heard that the classes were going to be mixed up, we had prayed – with, and for, our son. We had talked about new opportunities for friendships and also reassured him that God was with him and that the Bible says: “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28, KJV), which means we can trust God – whatever the outcome.
So when the news rocked him to the core, of course we started asking God why it had happened – because he was asking us and we didn’t have any simple answers. We also wondered whether we should complain or simply trust that the right course of action had happened.
It was tricky navigating this whole aspect, because we’d said to our son he could trust God would hold him and work things out in a way that would ensure God’s purposes for his life, and yet here he was faced with what he viewed as a truly negative turn of events.
Facing the new term
We prayed together the night before our son went back to school and his prayers revealed that he had grasped the understanding that he needed to give it a chance. While he was fairly resigned to the situation as he travelled into school, I think perhaps I found it more difficult waving him off than he did going in!
In those first few days of the new term I saw God’s hand at work, for both my son and me. He was able to play with his friends at break and lunchtime, enjoyed being in a class with his new teacher and even came out one day saying that it was a nicer class overall!
On the first day, his teacher was on the gate when I dropped him off so I was able to chat to him. And the next day his teaching assistant was there. She has been with him for a few years, and was able to reassure me that she thought it was the best thing that could have happened to him. She said that his best friend, who had consistently been competition for him in a good way (they’ve helped motivate each other), had actually started becoming a distraction in the last year. So she felt it was good they had been split up.
I immediately felt flooded with peace when I heard this – and also felt a little nudge in my spirit. I had an inkling there may have been something like that behind the decision; whether that was simply my parental instinct or me hearing from God I can’t say for definite, but in that moment I certainly felt a confirmation that God has been looking out for our son all along.
God is always at work
Of course, I know the truth that God loves my kids even more than I do, and that part of my job as a parent is to learn to entrust them more and more to him, but I also know that is a work in progress and I don’t always get it right (and it’s easier said than done sometimes).
I’m so glad our son is settling into school well so far but I know there will still be challenges ahead. While he may be throwing himself into tackling the new situation at school head on, his behaviour at home still isn’t great and we are navigating the whole disciplining with lashings of grace right now.
But I am really grateful for the glimpse of seeing God at work in our son’s life – and I know I definitely needed the reminder to trust God with my kids (especially as the oldest one has just become a teenager!)