Did you know that “girls laugh more than guys do”, or that “girls do more normal things” than guys? According to my 5th and 6th graders, these are some of the ways that guys and girls are different. They also informed us that “girls don’t go out and kill things, guys do” and “girls are more intelligent”. “Guys are strong and girls are (insert slight pause as the 5th grade boy realizes there are girls in the room) well, girls are not quite as strong”. I didn’t even try to swallow my laughter as our students answered the question, “How are girls and guys different?”

For the past two weeks we have spent our time in Fusion discussing what it means to be a girl or a guy created in the image of God. We began with Genesis 1:26-27, making the point that guys and girls are the same in value because we are all created in the image of God. We moved on to discuss that God created us uniquely male and female, reflecting God’s image in different ways. We are the same in value but different in the way we reflect and bring glory to God. We introduced the following definitions to our students:

At the heart of men (boys) is a desire to pursue (initiate and lead), provide (to be responsible for his and others needs) and protect (provide safety). At the heart of women (girls) is a desire to encourage (welcome, affirm, respond), help (take direction, assist, come alongside) and care (helping build, develop, give life, strengthen).

A 5th or 6th grader’s understanding of their unique purpose and role is critical in the process of forming their identity. Imagine a 5th grade boy who learns that one of his roles, his way of reflecting God’s image, is to be responsible for his and others needs, to provide for those around him. As he understands this and begins to look for needs so that he can fulfill his purpose, he might make the choice to take out the trash without being told or help his younger brother or sister brush their teeth. He might make the choice to step in and defend someone who is being picked on at school when he understands that he is uniquely designed to protect others. Believing these things will affect the way he views the needs he sees around him. As he steps into those needs he will not only bring glory to God, but will also gain purpose and an identity rooted in the gospel.

Imagine a 6th grade girl who understands that she is created with a unique ability to care for others, to nurture life. As she understands this and begins to look for ways to care for others, she might make a choice to sit with the girl that other girls make fun of or ignore, she might choose to walk away from the group of girls who are constantly talking about others because she knows she would not be caring for others if she is gossiping about them. Believing that her purpose is to reflect the image of God by caring for others or nurturing life will drastically affect the way she relates to others; it will drastically affect her own identity and purpose.

If our 5th and 6th graders can understand the unique ways God has created them to reflect his image, imagine how God can use them in their elementary schools and middle schools as they relate to those around them by providing, protecting and pursuing and by encouraging, caring and helping. These truths can change the way our girls and boys live now and have a huge affect on their relationships in the future.

Once again I stood in the back of the fusion room last Sunday and prayed that the truth of the gospel, the truth of how we are created to reflect and glorify God, would define the life of my 5th and 6th graders.

~ Leah

*image courtesy of clambert via sxc.hu