Let me begin by saying, this is a long one. Go grab a Diet Coke and get comfortable...
A couple of Sundays ago, an article came out in the Dallas Morning News about our family. I knew it was coming because, well, the reporter interviewed me for it, sent a photographer to my messy house, and I bought new concealer, extra-strength.
Anyway, we've had some pretty kind responses to the piece and I'm thankful to all the people who have called, emailed, and written with encouraging words.
Nonetheless, we did get a couple of notes that were not so sweet. One in particular made me really mad because it was, 1. snarky and 2. anonymous.
It said - in big block letters, typewritten -
"Regretful to see a father (and mother) put their precious children, especially two young girls, in such peril and harm's way."
They didn't really sign it that way, but it's sure how it felt. I had so, so many reactions to this that I'm kind of thankful there wasn't a return address. Some of them were not so nice. I may have cussed. I wrote them out. Wanna see?
Oh, I kid.
Anyway, then, two days ago, I received an email offering warning, from experience, to be watchful of all the kids coming in and out of the house. It was not anonymous, it was full of grace and exhortation and so what I thought was this...
A lot of people are thinking it, some have said as much to my face over the years, and so, since nothing overtly funny happened in the hood today, it might be worth talking about.
So, here's the deal - of all the things that made this move really hard for me, it was the thought of bringing my children into a place where they were anything but totally safe. At the time we had three - Sadie was still cooking - and their innocence delighted me in a way I can't really explain and I wanted to protect it. So did Trey. But to not come to a place we were really clearly called would be disobedient - even if it seemed out of line with what common sense would have us do. If our example is Christ, common sense kind of gets trumped by the whole, "Come, follow me." thing.
We had to look long and hard about what the Bible said about safety, protection, what it looks like to follow Him, and our own prejudices. And we got lots of counsel. My favorite was from a dear pastor in our church, Paul Settle, who looked across his desk at me one day and said, "You know, Melissa, a quarter of an inch deep, we're all the same." And he reminded me that our propensity to do really bad things to one another was a heart problem, not a race or economic problem, and without the hope of the Gospel, we're all on the wrong side of eternity.
So we moved with eyes as wide open as possible. I believe we're beyond careful with all the kids and the friends that come in and out. That being said, my hope rests in the One who is their Ultimate Protector, who will command his angels concerning them, and who upholds them in His righteous right hand.
Those are the promises of the One who called us in the first place and nothing can happen apart from his divine will. Do I always sleep great at night? No. Do I worry about the worst case scenario? More than I should. Do I sometimes fantasize about living in the really nice neighborhoods with gates and lovely people who don't hurt children? Every day.
The reality, though, is in this day and age, nowhere is Mayberry. We wouldn't let our kids play with closed doors, etc., etc., anywhere. I had an exceptionally bad run-in with one of those All-American boys in high school and no one would have suspected him to be capable of what he tried to do; especially his wealthy parents in their safe neighborhood, surrounded by people who looked just like them because we believed the outermost quarter of an inch meant ideal, college-bound, and safe.
I'm a mama bear and feisty as all get out when it comes to my kids. And when I say that, I mean all six, not four. We have to constantly remind ourselves why we're here, and that above all, we are to be still and know He is God. Ps. 46:10
FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, SOMEBODY PLEASE TELL A JOKE!!!
Ok, one more thing and then I'll wrap this up. Providentially, just around the time the article came out, and the subsequent questioning of our wisdom as parents and the ability to care for our own children, I started a book called Radical by David Platt.
One of the things he says was particularly convicting to me as a believer and reassuring at the same time. I'm gonna write it out so it will make this post painfully longer that it should ever be on a blog such as this but it does help affirm that our lives will often look differently that what appears right in the world's, and frankly, even some believers' eyes.
...go get a Diet Coke refill...
Radical, pp. 73
"We take Jesus' command in Matthew 28 to make disciples of all nations, and we say, "That means other people." But we look at Jesus' command in Matthew 11:28, "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest," and we say, "Now, that means me." We take Jesus' promise in Acts 1:8 that the Spirit will lead us to the ends of the earth, and we say, "That means some people." But we take Jesus' promise in John 10:10 that we will have abundant life, and we say, "That means me."
In the process, we have unnecessarily (and unbiblically) drawn a line of distinction, assigning the obligations of Christianity to a few while keeping the privileges of Christianity for us all."
I don't really know how to wrap this one up except to say, I get it. I would have thought the same thing so many have thought, wondered, and written in anonymous letters we opened wearing HAZMAT uniforms. I think the discussion is good but, if we're going on gut instead of Gospel, I'm fairly certain resolution is impossible.