Those Teachable Moments

This week, a homeless couple came to the church looking for help. The girl looked not much over 18 if that, the boy looked about that age. Dirty, walking around town, they walked into our doors. We talked to them and discovered they had no place to stay for the night. Pastor Doug got out a food voucher for the grocery store and paid for a night in a motel.

The next day they were back at the church again looking for another food voucher and another night at a hotel. I asked what their story was. The girl told me that her parents live in our city! I was amazed to say the least. I asked her why she wasn’t staying with them. She promptly told me that they were of the Apostolic faith and they did not approve of her shacking up with her boyfriend. They would not allow her to stay there. Or rather, she corrected, she could stay there but he could not. The following day they were back again. Looking for more help they confessed that her aunt and uncle had taken them in for a night but she had argued with her uncle because he had stipulations to their stay.  He made her leave his home since she could not respect his home. I felt bad for them but my husband put it all in perspective for our family and I want to share it with you. He used it as an example to our children.

He said in this way, ‘This is why we think it’s so important that you follow our rules. We aren’t being harsh but we expect for you guys to help out around the house, be respectful and do things we ask of you. This young couple didn’t learn that lesson. They were given a home to stay in when they were homeless. Instead of being grateful for the roof, they instead began to argue with the owner. Because they never learned obedience they were unable to see the blessing they were being given. For us now to help them in their rebellion to her parents would not be the right thing to do. The best thing for this girl to do is to go home to her family and for her boyfriend to go to his parents home and to begin on the right foot.’

It impacted me because their dilemma was a product of their disobedience. They would rather be homeless than conform to the rules of their parent’s home and yet, were unable to support themselves and wanted others to help. Even after Pastor Doug had said all of this to this girl, she persisted in coming by the church each day. This girl was very determined and said she would not leave the church until she spoke directly to the pastor. In this moment, she didn’t have the sense to realize she didn’t have the power to demand anything.

I began to see a picture of her as a child in the grocery store saying, “Mom can I have a candy?” Her mother answering, “Not today.” “Mom, plllleeaaaseeee can I have a candy.” “Not today.” “Mooooommmmmm, please can I have candy? Mom, mom, mom, mom, please just one?” Her mother angry at her daughter’s persistence sighing and responding, “FINE! GO GET YOUR CANDY.”

It’s in those little teachable moments where character is built. The bible says to let our yes be yes and our no be no but how often do we give in? Would we still give in if we could see the bigger picture of the future? When our desire becomes one where no one is ever unhappy, we do whatever it takes knowing it’s the wrong thing to do.  I wonder, do we become accountable later for the results we created?

I do feel bad for this girl but not how you may think. I feel bad that no one ever taught her how to live within the rules of freedom. It came home in an example in our home immediately this week. One of our kids had refused to do their laundry on their day. When their dad asked why not they proudly stood up, hands on hips and said, “What difference does it make to you when I do it?” See, the point is not when you want to do it, the point is when it’s time to do it.This weekend when the same child wanted to go to the movies at a certain time guess what happened? Dad quietly said, “What difference does it make when I take you as long as I take you?” I think the lesson has been learned at least in our home.

Those of you who are still raising kids please read this and learn a valuable lessons. We can’t save our kids from all heartache but we can help in teaching early lessons that help later. Those of you who have raised your children but they are still sponging because of this exact thing, I pray that you let your yes be yes and your no be no. I know it hurts when our children are in pain and I can’t even imagine what it would feel like to have my daughter running around homeless and I pray I never have to know but it is all about choices and those little teachable moments.

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