“OK, Grant. What’s this business about 4th graders being mean to each other?” I asked my older son after he came back from school the day I got an e-mail from the principal addressing this situation. The conversation went something like this: “Are you involved in it in any way?” “No.” “Have you been mean to anybody?” “No.” “Has anybody been mean to you?” “No.” “Have you seen it happening?” “No. I’m not involved in it,” he said sounding annoyed, and hoping I’d leave him alone. But I didn’t.
“If you say you are not involved, I believe you because I trust you. I just want to make sure I understand the situation.” I reassured him, and pressed again, “…but have you been there when it has happened to someone else?” “No…well…once.” “When? What happened?” “Well, I heard when a kid called another kid ‘cheese’…” “???...OK… Is that it?” “Yes…” he said unconvincingly, which prompted me to press him some more, and then lecture him on how as a Christian he has the responsibility to witness to the truth. Of course he had no clue what I was talking about, to which I responded with more theology that went WAY over his 9 year old head. I was afraid I was not reaching him at all.
“Remember the golden rule?” “Yes.” “What is it?” “Do unto others as you’d like it to be done unto you…” “Give me an example.” I thought this was it because he was going to say something profoundly relevant to this case like “well, if I don’t want people to be mean to me I should not be mean to them!” But instead he said, “…an example…it means…well…that if you hit someone, he’ll hit you back.” “?????WHAT???” I sighed and reiterated the golden rule in less King-James-like words. Then, I asked him again for another example, only to hear the same kind of thing one more time. It was official. I was not getting to him.
“That’s an-eye-for-an-eye-rule. That’s not what Jesus taught!” I said frustrated. I was out of words and clever thoughts. I had nothing left. I relinquished to the Holy Spirit and He moved me to grab my son by the shoulders and say, as a final attempt, “listen, I don’t care what the other kids do. If they don’t have the Light in them and they do the wrong thing, that’s between them and God; but you have the Light; and you have to let it shine!” I turned and began to walk away, but somehow, with the very corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of Grant’s face, and on it, there was the hint of something clicking. I stopped on my track, turned around to face him again and said, “yes, that’s what it means to let your little light shine.” I looked him straight into his eyes for an instant, and walked away to let his young brain process his thoughts on his own.
I look back on that incident now and marvel at the power of the Holy Spirit. He speaks to us in Scripture, in nature, in old familiar children songs. It really doesn’t matter; He can use it all to get to us, if we let Him. Once I let Him take over, He moved me to use something my young son would understand and then He moved me to give him the space he needed to let the thoughts sink in. May we tune into the Holy Spirit so we can see truth clearly revealed.
I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. John 12:46