Life of Privilege

I don’t write about our oldest son Trey often because he’s easy. You know what I mean. He’s that child who is friends with everyone, kind by nature, and a true momma’s boy. That’s not to say he’s without any faults….he’s still human. In fact, when we were mulching our flower beds, I actually understood why some mothers eat their young. He continually stood in one spot while I worked circles around him. He was also talking my ear off and I realized he had a major man flaw; he didn’t have the ability to talk and work.

Anyway, that’s not the point. This week we came to the beach to just get away. The fact that we even have the ability to do this is not lost on me. We have the ability to pick up and leave without worrying about things left behind. J.O. is out of a job, but we still have money. That’s not the reality for most Americans who are out of work. In fact, it’s why I find myself so torn on the coronavirus crisis. Not torn on the precautions we should take (masks, social distancing, hand washing), but torn on my personal opinion. It’s not life changing for us to alter our lifestyle and stay home but for a ton of people it is. Childcare is a necessity for Americans to work so I refuse to judge people who send their kids to summer camps or daycares. Staying home is not an option for all. It’s very easy for me to have a strong opinion when I don’t face the same reality.

I digress again. This week Trey has found a new found freedom on his bike. This is the best place to ride for miles because it’s extremely flat. We’ve allowed him to take off and explore on his own. I went with him the first two days, but then he took additional rides solo. Yesterday, he grabbed his wallet and rode to the ice cream shop down the street for some ice cream in private. It gave him a taste of independence while still (hopefully) being safe.

However, yesterday when I sent him off and told him to call me when he got there, I realized something. I was worried about his traffic skills, but not worried at all about him riding a bike through neighborhoods. Not at all worried about people thinking he’s suspicious or up to no good. Or questioning his motives. Or drilling him at the ice cream shop about paying with cash and where it came from. None of that was a fear for me. Even when he pulled over in a neighborhood and took a break and was on his phone. Nothing concerned me about that at all.

I guess I’m rambling to say this. It’s never been more evident than now our society is still in favor of families like mine. That’s just a fact. It’s not Trey’s fault that this is his reality, but it gives him a responsibility. Responsibility to at least recognize it and acknowledge it. It should change the way he does things. Change the way he looks at things. It’s going to be tempting for him to read articles and think, “I wonder what really happened?” or think, “I would never do that.”

You know, we have all become experts during this time. We are all sharing some pretty amazing articles and statistics with little thought to their accuracy. And the truth is, we share what is relevant and helpful to us. Want the world to stay completely locked down? Find a statistic to back it up. Conspiracy theory? Share something to support that. Think we should open up tomorrow and the most vulnerable stay home? Find some doctors who agree with you.

I could find any statistic I want on fostering and adopting. And if I couldn’t find what I wanted, I could write a pretty convincing article and label myself an expert.

During this time, we shouldn’t be naive. Ask yourself questions and do some scholarly research. But make sure you acknowledge your own privilege while doing it. It’s easy for me to enjoy this week at the beach. It really is. I have some amazing in-laws who are here too and J.O. has been more relaxed than I’ve seen him in some time. I’m not worried about our ability to go home and pay the bills. At least for a while…. This will go down as a great vacation although it came from a storm in our life. That’s called privilege.

This is one of the hardest things to teach Trey without making it his fault. It’s not his fault he was born a middle class white boy, but it’s our responsibility to make sure he’s not the man chasing the jogger in the truck one day. It’s our responsibility to help him see all sides of the coin and to help him see our reality is not the same for most. My biggest hope and prayer is that he grows up so focused on Jesus that this is not hard for him to grasp. Because truthfully, that’s everything Jesus embodies. It’s much easier to teach our child to see others through the lens of grace and love when he is looking at others through the lens of Jesus.

$1 Because Jesus Loves You….

We recently headed to Texas over Christmas break to see J.O.’s sister and spend some time with family. It was a bit stressful to head out the day after Christmas, but I ended up being thrilled we went. It was fun to watch the kids together and we always enjoy catching up with his sister and brother in law.

On the way home, we stopped at Jason’s Deli to eat lunch. Now, you should know something about us when we travel. We don’t mess around. We are always trying to get home for something. This time, it was to pick up Henry, and our dogs. We left very early that morning and our attire and tired faces reflected that. We looked less than stellar. So our stop at lunch was interesting to say the least. We probably should’ve eaten somewhere like McDonalds, but Jason’s Deli is somewhere we all agree on. The kids ONLY eat there for the free ice cream, but that still makes it a favorite.

We headed into this small town Jason’s and everyone in there had church clothes on. I mean everyone. And they all knew each other and we stood out like a sore thumb. It didn’t bother me at all, I just noticed it immediately. And obviously so did others. Towards the end of our meal, an older lady came over and gave the kids $1 and told them Jesus loves them. Our girls didn’t miss a beat and got super excited for the money, and Addison immediately said back….”well, Jesus loves you too.”

After she left, it hit Addison. She said….”oh, is this because we look like we haven’t been to church.” It surprised me that she picked up on that, but I just said maybe and went on eating my meal. I started thinking about it later. No doubt, this is something she has been encouraged to do. How do I know this? Because if you grew up in the church at all, you have been told to do the same. I will never forget doing this as a part of my youth group challenge. I gave $1 to the Sonic carhop and told her “Jesus loved her.”

Can this be an effective evangelistic tool? Maybe. But, it certainly can’t be our main “go to”. In fact, in certain situations I would argue this causes more harm than good. Refraim it a bit….basically, I am going to give you money to show you Christ’s love. Sucks to be you, but I’ve got $5/$10 to spare and don’t think twice about giving it out. Now, obviously this is exaggerated. Small acts of kindness are awesome and can often go a long way. But, why do we feel the need to make ourselves feel better about telling of Christ’s love by attaching money to it.

This past week, Trey had someone join his friends group chat that started cursing them out. No doubt it was for the shock factor of a new kid trying to shake things up. He was quickly removed from the group and they all started trying to figure out who it was. I actually found out from another parent and told Trey. Trey told me he wasn’t going to tell the kids in the chat, because he didn’t want them mad at this boy or judging him. He indicated the kid had some problems at another school, but Trey had never heard him curse like this. He wanted to give him a chance and thought he was likely just showing out.

Now, Trey could’ve immediately gone back to the chat and ratted this kid out and it would’ve been justified. He was being very rude and the kids had a right to know. But he didn’t. I don’t know where this kid will be long term, but to me that goes a lot further than handing someone a dollar and walking off. Be kind in a restaurant, sure. Open doors, pay for a coffee, pull out a chair, give someone money when prompted, and by all means tell people Jesus loves them.

But, when Jesus becomes something we think we have to bribe others to hear about, we probably need to rethink our motives.