Friday, March 13, 2009

Prayer Changes Things!

In my last post, I wrote about a situation that occurred at my older son's school in which one of his closest friends was attacked by a group of boys for no reason...

I was angry when I wrote that post... In my heart, I wanted them to get their just due... And we live in a society, that when it works, people pay the consequences of their choices.

But I have to be honest, my initial desire for justice was not just a pure desire for what's right... It was flowing from an angry heart that wanted these young men to pay for what they did to my son's friend, who is a treasure of a young man, and I wanted them to pay for stealing my sense of security. I was furious that they made me feel angry and out of control, that they created a situation where I was afraid to send my child to school.

But as I've prayed and prayed over this situation, my heart has changed. I am still angry at a system that doesn't protect our children and I am still angry at a world that reaps this kind of evil...but my heart is becoming heavier and heavier for the young men who did this...

Young men who have had no real love in their lives... If we love our children, we will make hard choices and parent them. Love sets boundaries and keeps boundaries... Love takes the time to teach... to care... to be consistent in it's discipline... A parent who loves well is constantly looking inside themselves to see where they need to grow and change, they want the air of character that their children breathe to be as pure as possible and that means sacrifice. It means living for a bigger picture than our personal desires of the moment...

I have learned over time that love means that I don't gratify my desire to inappropriately express my anger with yelling... or that I don't always watch things on tv or in the movies that my seem appealing... that I listen when I don't think I can listen any more... it means that I give up what's easy and consistently follow through on my discipline... Love is not letting our children do as they please... Love is choosing to BE a person of character that is worth emulating... That is what will prepare them to live well.

So it is clear to me that these young men have not been loved well... they have no respect for life... for another person's rights... they simply propagate what they have learned at home and in the world.

And that makes me sad for them... to know that they've had no one to love them well. I am not by any stretch excusing their actions, laying responsibility at someone else's feet, or absolving them of their crime. They are fully responsible for their choices, but I am sad for the life they've lived that led them to make those choices... that made them so desperate to belong that they would join a gang... that made them so angry and so mean that they beat up on an innocent young man. I am sad for young men who are simply reflecting the life they've lived and the people who have influenced them.

As I have prayed for this situation, God has given me His eyes to see them... His heart to feel compassion for them... His Spirit to forgive them. Forgiveness doesn't mean doing away with the consequences, but it does mean that I can think of them without anger and disdain and a desire for them 'to pay.' I want justice to be served, but whenever God serves justice, it is always with a purpose...to bring about change and transformation.

I pray that these young men will be disciplined in a way that will bring about change in their lives... That perhaps somewhere along the way, someone will love them well, with the love of Christ... I will probably never know who these young men are, they are under 16, so their names will not be released, but God knows their names.

I don't even begin to understand the mystery of prayer, but the Bible makes it clear, God has chosen to use the prayers of His people and God teaches me over and over that prayer changes thing... But one thing is clear... Before prayer changes anything else, it changes me first! It gives me a whole new perspective and replaces the seeds of anger, fear and judgement with seeds of grace, mercy, compassion and above all love.

2 comments:

Michelle said...

your response reminds me of something Bishop Desmond Tutu said:

"The oppressed are freed from being oppressed and the oppressors are freed from being oppressors".

Both the bullies and those being bullied are damaged at the very core of their being when these behaviors are allowed to continue...

momto4girls said...

I work in a public school, fortunately a small school in rural America, but even in our Bible belt country school we are experiencing the effects of a nation that has taken forgranted the abundant blessings God has showered us with. Many people ask what is wrong with our youth today and it is not a stretch, just as you said, that it begins in the home (or lack of a home). I have always agreed with the saying, "Today's youth are tomorrow's future." But, our youth are also a reflection of our current society. Wonder why people still continue to fight to have God removed from school?
I didn't mean to preach, but rather just to second (or Amen) all that you have said. Thanks for reminding me the power of prayer and reminding me that God is still in control.