Saturday, May 23, 2009

When It Gets Real

My normal work is the facilitating of spiritual growth in teenagers dealing with-- mostly-- petty issues. No doubt, these issues are important because they shape the adult that that young person will become. So patiently and wisely (uhh, really?) I parse through their emotions and get to the nugget of the issue, apply the biblical/ life principle that they need to pick up on and try to tell them how to move on from there.

But this week, twice, I have had to deal with kids going through...well...real stuff. Stuff that requires legal authorities type stuff-- you get me? So I was thinking in mid-conversation tonight, "Man this is getting real, son." In the middle of trying to take care of the spiritual welfare of these persons I am also thinking of my legal obligations to report what they are telling me and what is the proper next step. It's odd, because at first I take moment and think, "Wait, is this one of THOSE situations where I need to notify authorities etc?" And then looking at it in every possible shade I come to the conclusion, "Yes." It later seems odd that at first I question like this, because in hindsight it just seems obvious.

Anyways, these two moments from the past week have made me think about "when it gets real", when in a serious situation you question what you should do. At first you think "Oh well, that car looks abandoned." But then you realize, "But it could be a recent crash and I really should check it." When stuff gets real we want to rationalize, take any other way out but the hard one. But finally, after a little wavering, you know what you have to do: act.

I hope if I'm ever in a "real" situation that requires quick action I won't question or rationalize, but just go with what my gut knows to do. It's hard to say if I would. This week I had the luxury of time when confronted with hard situations.

I learned a few years ago, when it comes to not making trouble, don't do anything that you have to justify to yourself. Like when I was a kid, "It was ok to bash up that car with a rock because it looked abandoned." In general, that initial pause in your consicence is a good meter. Don't do anything stupid.
But on the opposite end, the end of response, I have found this week that it gets more complicated. You have to take in the details, interpret them, and then plot a course of action. Also, you think of the personalities involved, how likeable they are, or are not, what they stand to lose by you acting.
But I believe my maxim for my repsonse to others' stupidity, neglect, abuse, criminality, (insert attribute here) should be similar to how I govern my own actions: Don't justify others' actions to yourself; their actions speak for themselves. This isn't profound, really. But when you are faced with having to make someone face the consequences of their actions, you (or I at least) can start to think, "Oh but this is a nice person who messed up" or "this was maybe a momentary mistake".
Evil is evil. You can't reduce it. You can't appease it. You must bring it to the light. You must do the hard thing.

This is all fairly incoherent. None of this is easy for me. But I wouldn't trade what I'm doing right now for anything. We, as Christians, are called to bring freedom to the captives, to release the ones in darkness, to bind up the brokenhearted. Noone said it would be easy.

These kids will rise. They will overcome. They will be free.