“And I don’t like what they’re doing in the bathroom, Mom,” he said with a tone of strong indignation and serious concern. WHAT? I thought, as I caught my internal response before it came out of my mouth. “What are they doing in the bathroom?” I said calmly.
It was just before bed on a school night as my seven year old son explained the recent activities of four of his friends during the lunchtime bathroom breaks at school. His story was about behavior ranging from typical but inappropriate to somewhat alarming. He claimed to be an observer in this situation. Though he is completely capable of participating in mischief, I believed his story just as he told it. He spoke with integrity and even authority.
Suddenly, he paused and then spoke boldly, “I’m going to stop this mom. I’m just going to stop this! I’m going to ‘cut it out,’ just like when you cut out a piece of paper. And then I’ll crumple it up and throw it away!” I asked him what he was going to do. “I’ll talk to her,” he said, meaning he’d talk with his teacher.
As our discussion went on, I asked him why he wanted to “stop this.” He spoke passionately and said, “It’s not right, Mom. It’s just not right. I’m concerned for the rest of their ‘lives’.” There was no fear or blame in his attitude. The source of his passion was care for his friends and I heard it as a desire to support their dignity.
As we discussed it, he wasn’t completely comfortable telling his teacher the details of his story. I told him I would help him and we made a plan to call her in the morning. I suggested we pray about the plan. His prayer was silent.
When he was finished praying he said, “I think God just told me something.” He said that God had told him that one of his best friends would be mad at him for telling their teacher. “On the outside he’s going to be mad at me, but inside he’s going to be glad I told her.” I asked how he felt about that. “That’s fine with me, Mom,” he said with complete resolve and confidence in his plan. “I know it will be OK.”
Early the next morning I left a voicemail for his teacher and she called back before we had to leave for school. I told her the details. In his conversation with her, she affirmed him and thanked him for speaking up. She quickly identified an excellent plan for dealing with the situation. Ultimately it was resolved very well.
My son told his good friend that he had told their teacher. His friend was mad. After a day or two, the anger was forgotten and things were just as my son had expected. It was all OK.
It took a few days for me to connect the dots. This was just a couple of weeks after I had stood in a weekend service with others as we individually and corporately confessed a spirit of passivity. Of course I was confessing my own passivity, but as I prayed I surely included my family. I never expected to see God’s response to this prayer in my seven year old.
My prayer for my son is that he will experience a lifetime of bold alignment to God’s purposes. With gratefulness, I’m praying that I will receive the humility and attentiveness necessary to notice His continued work in my son. I don’t want to miss any of his revelation as my son’s bigger story unfolds.