There's a quote that I heard recently, but for the life of me can't remember. It's something about how when you live your normal, daily life in an upright and holy manner, that's when the Light truly shines the brightest.
I went back and found the quote that I couldn't remember, so here it is a week later.
"It is not in the busy doing for God,
but in the simple "being" that God uses us the most
to touch people we would least expect!"
Okay, so I did a really bad job of paraphrasing it, but the meaning remains the same.
Sure, we love our "programs" and "meetings" but it's at the vegetable market, at the playground, on morning walks, on the bus, and in the university classroom that people see us as just normal people. Those are the times that they get to see our character under various circumstances, and those are the times that cause them to wonder why we are so different. We've had so many people tell us that they saw us at the McDonnald's on the other side of town, or when we were buying winter coats for our kids, or at the hospital, etc. They are quick to detail every little thing they witnessed in our family. Certainly, we make an impression (our family does kinda stick out), and we pray that everywhere we go, it's a good one.
So, you can see why we are so eager to live among the people. We do our best to allow our children to live a "normal" life, being involved in activities and such. We often catch a lot of slack from people thinking that we are wasting our time in these activities, but we've seen so much come from them.
In Tae Kwon Do class the other day, the boys had their first real experience with a bully. Though the kid was younger than both of our boys, they were definitely not his first victims. It started out before class when all the kids play around on the mat. It usually ends up getting rather chaotic and quite often a little rough. There was what looked like a game of tag going on and the kid was whacking the boys really hard. At that point the teacher called all the kids over to some ballet bars to stretch, but the one kid refused. In typical Chinese supervisory fashion, there was no supervision going on. The kid knocked over both Tegan and Preston as the were stretching. I gave him the "mom" look and told him not to push. Then he came, with me 2 feet away, and spit in Tegan's face. [INSERT MAMA RAGE HERE] I talked to his mom and told her that she needed to do something. She had obviously seen everything, but she was just laughing it off. [INSERT MORE MAMA RAGE HERE] I told the teacher what was going on, and he said he'd take care of it. He held on to the kid for a few minutes then let him go. Well, the kid went straight to Preston and spit in his face too. [FUMING MAMA RAGE NOW] I somehow managed to keep my cool and talked to the owner of the school who had just walked in.
We've seen this kid be completely unresponsive to any discipline. If he's told to stand up, he sits down. If the teacher whacks his bum, he laughs. If the teacher grabs his hand and says, "Come here," he becomes dead weight. If the teacher yells in his face, again he laughs and makes faces. We've even seen the teacher beat on him pretty hard, and the results are the same. He even acted this way at the previous belt test when he was supposed to be showing his form. All the while the mom just laughs.
(Disclaimer: The teachers know that they had better not EVER lay a hand on our boys. It's so much a part of the culture here, but they know it won't fly with us.)
What really makes this sad is this. If the boy reacts this way to the teacher's discipline, what does it say about his home life. I'm guessing that he gets beat on a regular basis. In fact, I'd be willing to bet his mom gets beat too. You can see the hopelessness in the mom's face. She has no clue what to do with her son, and has obviously bullied him. She most likely has hopes that this Tae Kwon Do class will help to straighten him out.
I must say that I am VERY proud of our boys. They didn't once fight back. They didn't complain. In fact, they said that they felt sorry for the boy. We explained to them that he is acting this way because he is hurting. We talked about how he needs to feel loved, and how that's something that they can show him. Though you'd never guess with how rough-n-tumble they are, they really are compassionate boys.
So the lesson here is this: We call him a "bully" but really, he's just a boy that's hurting, a boy who is acting in the only way he's been taught. There's always a back-story, something we don't know about. Our job is only this--to love on him. Our society so often sees bullies and groups them into a heap of others that are termed to be beyond hope. Don't they have access to the same Hope we have? YES! Are they any less deserving of that Redemption? NO! So we love them...
Though it's unlikely that we'll be able to have a direct impact on the family, we pray that he and his mom will see light in us. I pray that I didn't scare her too much and that she'll understand that I have to protect my children. I hope that she's seen the way we talk to our children when they are in the wrong and she'll learn that violence isn't the only way to communicate disappointment. Maybe at the next lesson, I'll get to talk to her and find out why she's hurting so badly and just maybe I'll be able to encourage her not to take her pain to her son, but rather to The Son.
The next post will be another lesson we learned from Tae Kwon Do class and a cup of yogurt, so stay tuned!