We don’t usually think about little children having a heart attack. The kind of heart attack I’m talking about is affecting thousands of children. It is the emotional and spiritual heart attack they experience when their family falls apart. The family could be a divorcing family or a never married family. To a child, it makes no difference if their parents were legally married or involved in a co-habitation situation.
For years children have told me their hearts hurt. When I ask them where it hurts, they will lay their little hands over their hearts and say,
“It hurts right here.”
The emotional heart attack can leave scars that will affect the child when they become an adult. As they try to form relationships or enter into a marriage, they may be lacking in relational skills.
Spiritual lives may be affected as they struggle to understand a Heavenly Father when they have no relationship with an earthly father. A relationship with Christ may be hindered because they can’t understand how anyone could love them enough to die on the cross for their soul. How can we expect them to understand Christ as a Savior when one of the parents walked away?
We can teach children,
“Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage.” Psalm 27:14 (NIV)
We can do this by
- Demonstrating love for Christ
- Modeling healthy relationships between people
- Showing them what a life of faith looks like
- Praying with them and for them
- Sharing how our prayers are answered
- Introducing them to God’s word
- Providing them with scriptures on a regular basis
- Talking about how to care for their hurting hearts by giving them hope and encouragement
Church leaders and loving Christian adults can be the catalyst that mends the broken heart. You can be the one that soothes the pain of the heart attack. You can be the one that applies the salve to the hurting heart and the one that makes a difference in a child’s understanding of life.
More than anything you can be the one who recognizes a child-like heart attack.
“Therefore the king said to me, ‘Why is your face sad, since you are not sick? This is nothing but sorrow of heart.’” Nehemiah 2:2 (NKJV)
Linda Ranson Jacobs is one of the forefront leaders in the area of children and divorce. She developed and created the DivorceCare for Kids programs. DC4K is an international program for churches to use to help children of divorced parents find healing within the arms of a loving church family. As a speaker, author, trainer, program developer and child care center owner, Linda has assisted countless families by modeling and acting on the healing love she has found in Jesus Christ. Linda offers support, encouragement and suggestions to help those working with the child of divorce. She serves as DC4K Ambassador (http://www.dc4k.org) and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find additional articles from Linda on her blog at http://blog.dc4k.org/.
Free articles and devotions for single parent families in your church can be found at Linda’s website Healthy Loving Partnerships for Our Kids (http://www.hlp4.com).