In about 45 minutes I need to pick up my daughter from school, and I will need to have a conversation that I never, ever dreamed I would have to have with her.
Because today, a beloved teacher from her school was arrested for having sex with one of his students. I won’t go into the scant details I’ve heard so far, just suffice it to say it’s horrific.
And especially horrific because both of my older girls had this teacher, loved him, and my youngest was hoping to have him next year.
It hits home.
What I want to know, what I have been praying to God this afternoon, is how on earth do I talk to them about this? Because, for the life of me, I don’t know.
Ironically, I’ve been thinking all day about a blog post I read and responded to yesterday. My friend, Jo-Lynne, has been struggling with how to protect her children, especially her 13-year-old son, in this crazy world we live in.
I get that. I understand that struggle.
What really hit me as I read her post and some of the comments from people who said that they have intentionally placed their children in a “bubble,” is that no matter how hard we try, we do NOT live in a bubble. We live in a very broken, very fallen world.
That sure became evident to our community today.
It’s interesting to me that I have truly been chewing on this for the past 24 hours, because much of what I wrote in Jo-Lynne’s comments is what I need to remind myself of here, now that I’m in this situation of having to have the ugly talk with my kids.
First, I need to remember that our world is very fallen indeed. Anybody watching “The Bible” on The History Channel can see that parents have been worried about protecting their children from outside influences for centuries. It's nothing new. But it’s also an unfortunate reality that the world we live in is trying its very best to corrupt, not only our children, but US.
And sometimes we fall prey.
Second, I need to remember who I am. I need to remember that I am fallen, too, just like this world, just like that teacher, just like, well, me. I am fallen. I am sinful. I am not above reproach.
The phrase, “there but by the grace of God go I” rings very clearly today. The fact is, I could be that teacher. I AM that teacher, because when God sees my sin, it makes him just as disgusted as that teacher’s actions are to me.
Sin is sin, and mine is no “better” than anyone else’s. If I think otherwise, I am only fooling myself and setting myself up to be a hypocrite.
Third, I need to remember who God is. He’s God, and that’s enough. He has loved me enough to provide a way of salvation, and in return, he wants me to stop living like the rest of the world and be holy.
But here’s the thing: I’m not holy. No matter how hard I try, I won’t ever meet the standard that God has set for me. In His eyes I’m just as bad as that teacher.
Thanks be to God that because I have Jesus, God no longer sees my sin. He sees me as holy. It really is an amazing thing to think about.
So how does this help me talk to my kids about that teacher?
1. It reminds all of us that we are people who have received grace—totally, completely unmerited grace. And because of that we should not speak ill, we should not gossip, we should not judge what we do not know.
2. It makes me want to cling tighter to the God who sees all, who knows all, and who forgives all and to encourage my girls to do the same.
3. It causes me to pray for this whole messy situation, for the gross, fallen world we live in, and for the tender hearts of my children who are affected by this as well.
4. And, sadly, this situation forces me to talk to them about being careful about who they are around and who they trust. To be honest, that was not on my list of things to do today.
This is a desperately sad situation for everyone involved, including my very own children. As I said, this hits home. I’m angry about it all--the effects are so far-reaching--and yet, I’m so sad for our community, for the victim, for the teacher's wife and family, and even for him.
It’s an ugly, messy world we live in, and all kinds of bad stuff happens in it. Stuff I would rather not have to think about or talk to my kids about. But the fact remains that this world, without Jesus, is desperately needy. There is no disguising the fact, no sheltering my kids from it, no bubble big enough to hide away in.
All I can do is praise God that He sent His Son to redeem it. As Easter approaches, this seems especially important.
And that’s a conversation I want to have with my kids.