A little secret – Amos isn’t my favorite book in the Bible. I’m more of a Song of Solomon kinda girl. It’s easier that way.
The other day, I cringed a little as I watched Frank Schaeffer debrief from his conference on Human Trafficking. The urgency in his eyes, and the passion in his voice was just as I envision ‘ol Amos to have been. The information and statistics he explained has stuck with me all week. After this week, Amos is my kind of guy.
Amos, like Frank’s message, is typically skipped over. It’s not the funnest message, both of them telling us to open our eyes to the infractions on social justice. But we don’t wanna. It’s too much. It’s overwhelming. And what can we do about it anyway?
Thousands of years after Amos, we’re still fighting the same fight.
A few days after watching Darkwood Brew, I discovered Lucy, had been in a situation. My kids are growing up. Two blocks from our house is a park and a middle-school. As of recent, the kids have been asking to go to the park. Their request: independence. My request: never leave my house, stay here and stay safe.
So, Lucy and a friend asked if they could walk to the park. I clinched my teeth, said a prayer, barked a few “be safe” and “be home by’s” and “check in every few minutes” and let them go. They returned and all was well.
Through a note I’d found, and some conversation, I’d discovered that Lucy and her friend were approached by a man in the park who was handing out Bibles. After they’d received the mini-Bibles, they felt something wasn’t quite right. They threw the Bibles in the trash. Lucy felt intense guilt for throwing the Bible away. But something told her and her friend to do it.
They returned home, and said nothing about it until I found a note to God from Lucy asking her forgiveness for throwing the Bible away.
I was petrified, frozen with fear in all the things I’ve told the kids about stranger danger and safety. An episode of Dateline popped in my head when they tested kids to see if left alone at home, despite all reminders and explanations, if the kid would open the door to a stranger. Parents all said, “Oh, he won’t do it. No way.” And sure enough, the kid opened the door. Every test on every kid, except one, they opened the door.
My first concern was there was a guy in the park handing out Bibles. Let’s say the guy was an upstanding guy with the utmost moral intent. It’s not like it was a city street, with a greater target audience. The park near a school on a random weekday seems to suggest to me that this guy had intent on a particular target audience: kids. Okay, well, maybe he feels these kids need Bibles.
But what it felt like, after hearing this story, was that this guy had upgraded from handing out candy to kids to using Bibles. “Look kids, I’m a good guy, I love the Lord!”
My second and much bigger concern is that Lucy took the Bible. The handoff, could have resulted in the guy grabbing the girls. And then there would have been nothing. Thankfully, the guy with fairly bad market research skills did not grab Lucy or her friend.
We’ve now practiced, “No thanks, we have plenty at home.” And then a 10-foot distance perimeter walk around the guy.
Next concern – the kids took something when someone handed them something, but then they regretted their taking it. To the point where they thought to throw it away, citing that the guy “kinda creeped them out.”
Next concern and big doozie for me – she didn’t tell me about it. It was a big enough deal for Lucy to write a note to God, but she “forgot” to mention the transaction to her parents. For the record, I’ve assured Lucy that God heard her and my prayers.
So, what do I do now? Amos? Frank? Seriously, help me.
It’s such a delicate age right now for my kids, and apparently me. Do I sit them down and explain everything I thought we taught them already? Do I add more detail and tell them just how bad the bad guys are? Do I reiterate that bad guys don’t look like bad guys, that most times, they look like the rest of us, or mask their image with candy, or now Bibles?
Don’t get me started about the fresh dialogue with God on guilt at such a young age. She’s just starting out praying on her own. I don’t want her prayers to be “Forgive me.” I want them to start out with “Thank you!”
I don’t want to have such grave talks with them. (I wonder if Amos felt like that at some point.) I feel like I’ll be taking some of their innocence and independence away. But deep down, I know that they have to know what’s going on, before someone else with far worse intent, takes their innocence and independence away. Whether it’s the creepy guy with the Bibles in the park that could potentially kidnap my kids, or years later, even maybe a bad someone they are dating, it’s up to me to teach them to keep safe.
It’s a constant delicate battle we take on for our kids. Whether we’re taking on safety for our own family, or for an entire community, Amos, Eric and Frank had it right on human rights. We can’t just ignore it and hope it’ll go away.
Step one: bring things to light. (Which is a really tough first step.) Now on to step two: what can we do anyway?
I’m looking forward to hearing more from dialogue with ‘ol Amos, and crew.
Leslie is a blogger for Darkwood Brew. She’s had her own blog for 8 years – www.momontherocks.com, chronicling the crazy moments of mommyhood. She also has a column in HerLiving, a local Omaha Magazine. When she’s not writing, she’s laughing and/or eating with her very tall family: husband, Chris, and twins, Max and Lucy.