Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Conversation I Never Thought I’d Have with my Kids

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.

But Jesus.

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.


  1. I am so sorry for all involved! I have had to tell my children very sad and important news. 'Your dad has cancer in his brain and they will treat it as best they can but eventually he will die from that'. I had to tell them the truth so that they could understand why the people around them were so devastated. Anything less than the truth would have caused them to wonder what was REALLY going on. So, i recommend the whole truth as soon as it is known when children are of an age to process the information. That way they can learn how great God is and how He can walk with us through difficult, sometimes unbearable times.

  2. I don't envy you the conversation you're about to have. I remember when my husband found out that a trusted family friend had molested his grandchild. It crushed him. But you are right, in all points.

    I want to address this one in particular:

    "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."

    Yes. And that is why I hate to point fingers at those who have fallen. I have found myself in sinful situations that I do not care to expand upon, suffice it say, it can happen to the best of us... and it will surprise you what you might be capable of. We are all capable of the most heinous of acts, even if we think we aren't.

    I'm so sorry you have to deal with this situation. I am sure you will handle it with grace. Thanks for your thoughts - both on my post yesterday and here today.

  3. crazy and so sad. love your heart in all of it though...may God give you the words!

  4. Thank you for your thoughts. It's very helpful in how to direct conversation with my HYACK girls.

  5. Thankful for your post today. I didn't have him, but many peers did and he was well liked "back then". This is a good reminder for me, for my heart, and my conversations with peers and others in our community.

  6. I am so sorry. I have had some hard conversations with my kids--yesterday we discussed the Steubenville case. Part of me would rather keep them in that "bubble" you mention, but it is just an illusion. They need to know that some people are not worthy of their trust, and, in that particular case, alcohol makes you unable to protect yourself.

    They have long been taught that adults shouldn't ever ask them to keep secrets from their family and when their "creeper detector", as they call it, goes off, that is a warning that something is truly not right. The result? They notice when bad things are happening in their friends' lives and they have gone on to have their own conversations they thought they'd never have--ones that start with, "Are thinking of killing yourself and do you have a plan?" and "You need to talk to your parents about _____" and even, "I am calling 911".

    So...I hate that I have to have these conversations, but by giving up on the fantasy of kids in a bubble, I free them to show the love of Jesus to the hurting world they live in every day. That really prepares them for the rest of their lives.

  7. gorgeous words of comfort and restoration, shelly.

    hoping that the talk you had with your children bears fruit and will bring a little peace to you and them.

    i appreciate your kind words and support. i'm muddling through and finding moments of clarity and peace. i don't even deserve these moments, but i am accepting it all with open hands.

    love to you.


  8. Since I am deep into the book of Nehemiah, I am reminded that we have a great enemy, who loves the ugliness of our world and the compounded effect of years and years of sin.

    When the exiled in Jerusalem heard that Nehemiah wanted to rebuilt the wall and they were going to do it ... completely surrounded by enemies ... they were terrified.

    My favorite verse in the whole book is in chapter 4 when Nehemiah tell them ...

    "Do not be afraid, remember you great and awesome God and fight for your families."

    This is just what you have so beautifully done here, Shelly. Remembering how great and awesome God is AND fighting for your daughters.

    This post is full of so much truth - while I am sad for your girls, I am so glad they have you and B to help them contain and process these emotions.

    And thanks for sharing it on your blog.


  9. Oh, Shelly, I'm sorry. So sorry. But you are quite right in your assessment--there, but for the grace of God, go we. Any of us. Praise be to God for His unspeakable gift! May we be humbly grateful and gratefully humble.