This is going to be an outlier from my usual blog posts. I definitely don’t have the majority view, and it’s definitely going to be a Christian view.
Recently, a little rural farming community skyrocketed into local news. It wasn’t for the good they do for the homeless or the poor. It wasn’t because of the latest sports or movie star that used to live there. It was because of a scandal involving a teacher and alcohol on school property.
I could respond as Kittie, the awkward recovering ex-teen nerd. I could decry the system that creates easy targets for bullies through rewarding students and teachers alike based on schmoozing and popularity and ignoring (perhaps even ridiculing) those who have strong intellectual and technical skills and those who have artistic or musical talent and those whose sole talents are compassion and mercy.
I could respond as Kittie, the outraged community member. How dare they hire someone so dysfunctional? How dare they wait so long to notify the parents? Why should the administration be trusted to deal with this openly instead of turning a blind eye and sweeping this under the rug?
Instead, I am going to respond as Kittie, the very weary and tired working Christian mom. I am going to share exactly (well, almost exactly) what I have shared with my children about this situation.
I know this is all very hard for you to understand. I’m going to try to explain it for you. Then I want you to go away and think about it at your own speed and at whatever time God tells you to. Our God is not the Author of confusion, but in working all things to our good, He helps us bring order to the chaos.
I know this teacher made some unwise decisions. The good thing is he was caught before any other students or faculty were harmed. I can’t tell you why he made the unwise decisions he did; maybe there’s some dark part of his past he can’t talk about or process, or maybe he has a family member who needs more help than he can give.
The reality is we all make unwise choices in this dark world. We are all broken, the world is broken, and sometimes, we make broken choices that break us and our world even more. Some people never get caught in this life by their unwise choices; they either never know their choices are unwise, or they get to learn from their unwise choices without anyone they know ever knowing any better. Others get caught in the consequences of their choices. Unfortunately, some have to deal with very real and public results from the consequences of their choices.
Regardless of the choices of others, this teacher included, we need to work together as a community. We cannot hide unwise choices in the darkness and pretend that they don’t happen. Instead, we need to snuff out the dark light of gossip, slander, and judgment, even when they masquerade as prayer request or small talk required by social rules. We need to squelch the noise of public attention and interviews to focus on the good we do as a community without ignoring the good we fail to do and still need to.
Then, we need to choose to serve the Light of Truth. We need to stop hiding behind our denominational pews and choose to live a life of authentically following Christ. This includes disciplining our tongues to avoid the quagmires of gossip, slander, and judgment and to ardently and passionately seek prayer.
In this case, I think the following things are probably pretty wise, reasonable prayers that our Heavenly Father would find acceptable:
- That the Father’s Will be done in this teacher’s life
- That the teacher’s family is strong in the Father and strongly supported by the community
- That this teacher’s co-workers hold no shame or guilt for unintentionally missing any warning signs and that they would choose to bring good from this situation by learing new skills and ideas to be applied to the school and community at large
- That all the leaders of spiritual homes in the community begin to work together to share resources and contacts, not only for this issue, but for all the issues facing this community
- That all community members remember all the addicts in their social networks, both those addicts not yet ready to begin to heal and those addicts struggling for recovery each and every day of their lives
- That the community shrugs off gossip, slander, judgment, bickering, and self-absorption; puts on the agape love of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and prayerfully notices the broken and hurting around them, not to shoot the wounded in the foot but to circle the wagons and strengthen the hurting and broken