As much as we don’t want to “go there”, shame is often an emotion faced when parenting. Just a week ago, I was at the park with a group of friends and a gentleman came up, asking who was the parent of the “boy in the green beanie” hat. It was clear this wasn’t going to be a moment to jump up and down, wildly waving my hand to claim my youngest. He had pushed a girl and stepped on her foot and he reassured that “everything was alright, but I wanted you, as the parent, to know….”
Luckily, I was sitting with two close friends who could be the perfect kind of support in that moment. I still felt shame. Embarrassment. I was red in the face and wanted to quickly escape the public place.
This is not the first time that one of my child’s decisions or behaviors was hard to swallow and I’m sure it won’t be the last. As parents of babies, toddlers and elementary aged children, it is almost the “comical” relief to relate these moments. Inappropriate statements loudly blurted out in the grocery store. Unexpected peeing when a diaper got loose. Time outs and consequences are challenging and take me to my knees many days. But all of this aside, I know that the parenting realities of the teenage and young adult years might just undo me in a way I’m not even comprehending or expecting.
Similar to many of you, no doubt, I have been reading the reports emitting from Boston as this week of violence has unfolded. One of my friends posted on Facebook, “The statement of the uncle of the bombers…heartbreaking.” Before even searching via Google to find his words, I started thinking about this reality. Imagining your own child or nephew committing such a horrific act. Wondering how you could look them in the eyes with love as a city the size of Boston is literally shut down, on lock down, ground to a halt by your offspring’s decision.
Taken from this article, the uncle declared that the boys “don’t deserve to live on this earth.” Tsarni said Tsarnev “deserved it” when asked about his nephew’s death this morning. He also referred to at least one of his nephews as a “loser.”
“I just wish they never existed,” he said. “It’s crazy. It’s not possible. I don’t believe it. When I heard this on TV, I thought ‘Who can do this stuff?'”
“He put a shame on the Tsarnaev family,” Tsarni said of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who remains at large in a manhunt centering around Watertown, Mass. “He put a shame on the entire Chechen ethnicity,” Tsarni continued. “Of course we’re ashamed. They are children of my brother, who had little influence over them.”
So much shame. So much anger. The need to speak up and share his own disbelief that someone is humanly capable of doing such a thing.
I don’t pretend to understand it….the acts committed on Monday or the ensuing man-hunt and killings. It has been a tough week. And as a parent, I understand that immediate jump to shame. To embarrassment. To moments of wanting to turn the other way when it’s YOUR kid that is wearing the identifying green beanie. How do we pray in these moments? How do we stand on the truth that restoration is possible, that peace is attainable and worth claiming and fighting for?
My inclination is to run away. To grab my boy with the green beanie and hide. To wallow in shame. I know, though, rather than believing the world is a dark, hopeless place, that we need to CHOOSE the light. Choose to let hope be felt. Choose to sit with one another in the moments when we’d rather just blame, shut down or run, loving through presence.
“Love must be honest and true.
Hate what is evil.
Hold on to what is good.
Love each other deeply.
Honor others more than yourselves.
Never let the fire in your heart go out.
Keep it alive. Serve the Lord.
When you hope, be joyful.
When you suffer, be patient.
When you pray, be faithful.
Share with God’s people who are in need.
Welcome others into your homes.
Bless those who hurt you.
Bless them, and do not call down curses on them.
Be joyful with those who are joyful.
Be sad with those who are sad.
Agree with each other.
Don’t be proud.
Be willing to be a friend of people who aren’t considered important.
Don’t think that you are better than others.
Don’t pay back evil with evil.
Be careful to do what everyone thinks is right.
If possible, live in peace with everyone.
Do that as much as you can.
Don’t let evil overcome you.
Overcome evil by doing good.”
(from Romans 12)