I stand between two boys. Wild tears flow down cheeks. One son holds a torn comic book. The other holds an attitude. Crossed arms hard and eyes cast down give him away.
"Son, did you really tear your brother's comic book?"
His answer is straight. "Yes."
"I was angry."
"Is that an appropriate way to handle anger?"
"Well, what's the right thing to do?"
Oh, Sweet Son, the right thing will be hard.
I wish that I could call the incident isolated. But I couldn't. Earlier this week, there had been something else. So here we are. Talking of honoring others and honoring God and handling our emotions in an appropriate way.
Talking torn comics and torn hearts and torn relationships.
And there will be repentance. Forgiveness.
But there's still restitution.
A strong, strong word.
It's our goal to raise righteous men. Men who will make mistakes (thank you, Jesus, for sweet, sweet grace). But men who will make things right when they do.
Men who will admit when they've been wrong.
Men who will set things straight.
And for my little son, that means buying a new comic book.
So we stand, in the store, a day later. The book is on the belt, and my little guy pays the price. He pulls on the brown leather wallet in his pocket. Wriggles it hard to break it loose. Stretches it open with still-small hands. Extracts the five dollars he'd gotten for Christmas.
And he lays his money down.
I think of an old show, black and white, some child about to receive discipline and the torn parent hovering, wringing hands above, saying "This is gonna hurt me more than it hurts you..."
I think about this, as my son slides the wallet back to his pocket. Then he takes the white, plastic bag, loops it over his small, straight wrist.
And we leave the store.
But the price strikes my own heart.
We hurt when our kids fall.
But it's possible, I believe, that we hurt even more
when we help them to stand.
Lord, give me wisdom as I raise my sons. Be with this little boy's heart. Help him to be a man who will make good choices and who will honor You with his actions when he needs grace. And help me to hold him accountable to a standard. A standard of high calling that would bring You glory and draw others to Your Name.