I just learned a few days ago that my youngest son has been being teased for weeks or months, I don’t know how long. It came to light a few days ago. In one of their school chapels, the students had been encouraged to make sure their hearts were right with God, and in an unusual moving of the Spirit, many did so, and did so publicly that day. It was totally unplanned, but chapel lasted for a couple of hours or more that day as they gave time for students to confess to the Lord, and to each other if need be, anything that He convicted them of. Our church had had wonderful revival services the week before, and this, I think, showed the Lord’s continued working.
What my son felt the need to confess to us was that he had pushed or shoved another student a while back. That’s not characteristic of him, but the student had said something about me. What, I don’t know and didn’t ask. I told Jesse that while I appreciated his wanting to defend me, that probably wasn’t the way to handle it, and he agreed. As we talked longer, somehow it came out that he was regularly teased about his ears. He laughed as he told me some of the things that had been said. I mentioned to him that there is a surgery in which they can take ears that stick out too far and make them closer to your head. My husband and I had talked about it before — to me Jesse’s ears were kind of borderline. If they had been much worse we would have already had the surgery to avoid just this kind of thing. But all surgeries have their risks, so we didn’t want to do it unnecessarily. So we were waiting to see how things changed as he went through puberty. As I mentioned this surgery to Jesse, he said, “No, I’m fine with it. A lot of times I laugh along with them.”
So, though he’s handling it well, my mother-bear heart was upset. I don’t think we need to talk to parents of the other kids or anything like that — I think that could only make it worse.
But what bothers me is that, when anything of this nature comes up in a conversation, the general response is something like, “Oh, kids are just that way.”
Well, that’s true. But it is also a kid’s way, when he is little, to hit another toddler over the head who has a toy he wants or to lie the first time his mind can comprehend that he might be in trouble but he might get out of it if he can make Mom think that something else happened. We correct those behaviors — why do we let other behaviors go unchecked with the excuse that kids are just that way? Especially Christian parents of Christian kids? People have often said through the years, “Kids can be so cruel.” Shouldn’t we be trying to teach our children not to be that way?
I know often parents are unaware of the kinds of things their kids are saying. Probably my own children have said things they shouldn’t have to other children along the way as they were growing up that I am totally unaware of. Perhaps one thing we can do as parents is to ask the Lord to bring these things to light if and when they happen so they can be dealt with. Another thing we can do is actively teach that God made everyone the way they are for a reason. Our standard is not, or shouldn’t be, that everyone should look like movie stars or models. We talk about that in other areas, but we need to apply it to this. Sometimes I’ll see someone and my first reaction is that their nose is big or their eyes are too far apart or whatever, and I’ll have to ask myself, “By whose standard? Who decreed that noses are only supposed to be so long or eyes are supposed to be set only a certain way? Who made that nose or those eyes?” We need to check these attitudes in ourselves and in our children. And we need to teach the harmfulness of hurtful words (Prov. 12:18: There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health) and the need for gracious, edifying words (Eph. 4:29: Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.)
I hope this doesn’t sound like I am “ranting.” It isn’t meant to. These thoughts weren’t stirred just by this one incident. but have been on my mind for a while. I’ve been a mother for 22 years, worked with children for several years before that, and was a child myself before that. 🙂 So, knowing that children are wont to tease and to sometimes be cruel is nothing new to me. But over the years I have been amazed at the tendency of adults, especially Christian adults, to just brush it off as normal. Christians aren’t supposed to yield to the sinful impulses that come normally. We’re supposed to seek God’s supernatural grace to yield our bodies, including our mouths, to Him for His use.
The Lord is so good to minister to us and bring something of His truth before our eyes just when we need it. I mentioned a few days ago that I was delighted to find a reproduction of Rosalind Goforth’s biography of her husband, Jonathan. I’ve been wanting to reread it since I got it, and I picked it up yesterday. One of the early chapters talked about his college experiences. He came from a farming background, and his mother was one of the best seamstresses in the county, and she made his clothes for school. When he went away to college, his home-made clothes stood out like a sore thumb in the city. Even more than that, though, he was naive and unpretentious. He did realize that his clothing did not fit in, and, though very poor, bought some material to have some new clothes made. Some young men in his dormitory found it, cut a hole in the top, put it over Jonathan’s head, and made him run up and down a hallway through a number of other laughing students. He felt afterward that this kind of behavior should be reported, but was told by the college authorities that it was just a harmless prank. It hurt him, not so much that this had been done to him, but that it had happened at a Christian college. Rosalind writes, “That night he knelt with Bible before him and struggled through the greatest humiliation and the first great disappointment of his life. The dreams he had been indulging in but a few days before had vanished, and before him, for a time at least, lay a lone road. Henceforth he was to break an independent trail. It is not hard to see God’s hand in this, forcing him out as it did into an independence of action which so characterized his whole after life.” By the time he graduated, he had the honor and support of the whole school, and many had come to apologize for their actions that year.
So — I know the Lord can use these kinds of things to teach and to build character, and I can trust Him to work all things together for good (Romans 8:28).