Monday, March 2, 2009

Oh, My Goodness (a break from SOS)

Something strange has happened.

I finally decided my life is stable enough that I can teach a Sunday School quarter in my church.
I'm teaching the fourth, fifth, and sixth graders.
That's not the strange thing.
The strange thing is that the first unit in this quarter is about turning the tide of emotions.
The first lesson yesterday was on anger and the lesson next week is on...

Wait for it...

BITTERNESS!

Whoa.

Can you believe it?

And just for the record, I'm honored that it fell this way. I'm honored that God would trust me with these lessons on emotions and with this Sunday School class. The lesson yesterday went well even though I went in a bit of a different direction than the lesson.
I handled it differently in part because of a discussion I had with Molly and others on her blog:
Adventures in Mercy

http://adventuresinmercy.wordpress.com/2008/12/17/letters-to-an-abused-soul-when-love-is-no/#comment-22746

It is important to me to stress to these children that anger, itself, is not the enemy.
The Bible says to be angry yet do not sin.
It doesn't say do not be angry. And yet I've heard enough cautions over the years from teachings that stress the evils of anger that it left the impression on me that I was not allowed to be angry.
I eventually learned that suppressing anger is worse than the anger itself.
I had to learn to take my anger to God and let Him teach me, even release me, that it is okay to be angry.
So in my class we learned about appropriate anger, anger as a symptom of something else, anger addiction, and anger used to control.
The last two mentioned above, I stressed, were inappropriate anger. We called it sin.
The second one could go either way.
Though the curriculum touched on appropriate anger, it really stressed the dangers of inappropriate or unhealthy anger to the point that I feared my students would think that they needed to repress their anger. And I didn't want that. I wanted them to understand symptom anger.

Cain had symptom anger when God rejected his offering. (Genesis 4:1-8)
But the beautiful thing about this story is that God, Himself, was right there to direct Cain on what to do with this symptom. Unfortunately, Cain didn't listen to God and he ended up killing his brother.
This story was not included in the lesson curriculum. But I had to include it because so much of the time we don't recognize our anger for what it is. -- a symptom of something else.
Cain felt rejection and expressed it in anger.
It was actually good because it revealed that he really did care about what God thought about him.
And God provided a way for him to do what he needed to do to not be rejected. But Cain gave himself over to anger and sin instead of mastering the sin.

This story made an impression on my students. They seemed interested in the four expression of anger.

So anyway, I'm quite pleased that I get to teach this unit to my students.
They are in a very important time in their lives. I pray that God will give me what I need to teach this unit in a way that helps them along in healthy emotional growth and development.
I hope I can help them avoid some of the pitfalls that I have had.

2 comments:

Gem said...

Hi Mara,

So proud of you- teaching those youngsters truth!

I really appreciated Adele Hebert's thorough research on the topic of anger. Perhaps you would like it too?

"Jesus Was Angry" (click here)

Molly Aley said...

That was super cool. I wish I'd been in your class!!!