I’ve had a run on the workshops on friendships I runs for schools. I’m revamping them for the new term. And I noticed that a few of the schools who have signed up are church schools. So, as part of the assembly I take, I’ve offered to conclude with prayer, in those schools. The teachers have been more than happy to let me. They would be tasked to do this if I did not.
I know how to gather children of that age for prayer: how to prepare a liminal space for them. I’ve done that many times, if not in assemblies. And I’ve tried to begin writing this prayer. But I never get very far. Not that I can’t think of suitable words to use. I can come up with them. The Bible refers to Christ as friend often enough.
But then I start to think about my primary school understanding of friendships. How:
“Little girls are cute and small only to adults. To one another they are not cute. They are life sized.”
Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye.
How impossible it was to be friends with any of them, because nobody wanted to know. And worse. And I’m distracted, and angry and tearful.
And I think of now. How often I have sat folded, in tears, and begged God not to let me feel so overwhelmingly angry with people I trust. That He would help friendships be easier to handle. But still the river of rage courses through me; still the joy of friendship is eclipsed by fear of rejection. Still, at base, nothing has changed.
And I know how disingenuous, how hypocritical, the children’s prayer could be. To have faith that God will help these children, to ask Him to help these children, when things are still no easier for me. But still I am drawn to prayer, again and again. Urged to keep praying. To keep faith that He can change things for me.
That makes the children’s prayer the hardest friendship prayer of all.