To The Man Who Taught My Children A Lesson

A few weeks ago, I took the older two boys to our public library, thinking it would be a great time for them to get away from the younger two.  It’s become difficult to bring all four of the kids to the library at the same time unless Michael’s available to tag-team.

On the way back to our car after stocking up on a lot of good reads, we encountered a man, in a compromised mental state, likely due to drugs, doing some very inappropriate things with his body against a window.  This man called out and wanted to talk to the boys.  They couldn’t understand him because of his garbled speech and were uncomfortable with how he made them feel.  As we physically could not go anywhere but by him, I held the boys’ hands and walked by.

“Help them enjoy this age.  Kids grow up too quickly.  My own son is 20 now, and I’m going to be a grandpa.”

I replied congratulations, and walked the boys onward to the car.

They had many questions for me, as they couldn’t understand the man’s speech or why he doing the things he was doing.  I explained that sometimes when people are scared or sad or angry they put bad drugs into their bodies so that they forget what is making them scared or angry, but that sometimes those bad drugs made people do things that they wouldn’t normally do. I went on to explain the dangers of drugs in age-appropriate terms.

Our second oldest has had some followup questions and mentions the situation every time we pass that particular spot.

Tonight, he had a nightmare about “the yucky bad drug man.”

He fell asleep in my arms again after crying about this man.  This is our sensitive son.  He’s the one who used to want to be an ant doctor to fix the broken ants.  God has given him such a capacity for love and compassion.  And he wanted to know if there would be people who used bad drugs in France.

And I had to tell him the truth.

Yes.

We’re going to be working with people who are broken and bruised and have faced tremendous horrors repeatedly.  People who have endured despite atrocious and formidable circumstances.  And yes.  Many people will have unhealthy coping mechanisms. And it pains me that I can’t keep those truths from my kids.

When we went to missionary training a few weeks ago, I came into a more clear understanding of my role as a missionary and as a wife and mother as we move our family to France.  My job is to provide a life-giving home, a place of joy and safety and beauty, so that our home will be a refuge for our family as we walk in very saddening and dark places.  God has uniquely gifted me with a passion for beauty and life and light in the little things, and I can see now how perfectly my personality fits in this plan of His.

So yes, sir.  I will help my kids enjoy this age.  I will do my best.  Thank you for offering me that reminder, painful as it is.  We pray for you, that you will find peace and restoration.

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