Friday, September 21, 2007

When Worlds Collide

It has been a challenging week in our family on many levels. Both Claudia's and my professional lives are moving at rapid paces, and the demands of school work, church and extracurricular activities have created a family of tired, crabby, frusrated, anxious people.

Because of my vocational territory, it is very difficult to separate my (and our) personal life from my professional life. When I "leave the office" it's hard to leave because so much of the meaningful fabric of our family life in our faith is wrapped up in what I do professionally. Over the years I think we've navigated that territory pretty well, and while it may not be perfect we have at least come to peace with the challenges it presents.

But the worlds collide occasionally. Like this morning when I received an email from a parent whose son is one of the 45 confirmands I teach every Wednesday night. Her email was factual and appropriate, explaining to me an incident that occurred the night before which involved our fifteen-year-old son and her son (both of whom are in the same confirmation class). Evidently our son repeatedly threw rocks at her son, resulting in an injury to his eye. She described him as being in considerable pain and the ensuing doctor's appointments have required both her and her husband to take time off work in order to facilitate the appointments. His eye has not been damaged, but he has experienced discomfort and they have had worry and loss of work to contend with.

Because their pastor's son decided it would be OK to continually (even after requests to stop) hurl rocks in the direction of their son. It is frustrating to me when worlds collide. My pastoral world and my family world often work together just fine, but in moments like this I become angry. Children should not have to worry when they come to church that they are going to be assaulted by anyone, and certainly not by one of the pastor's kids. It minimizes my credibility and jeopardizes others.

What it means for our son, of course, is that he will have to serve some "in church" suspension, which basically means that when he is at church he will have to be under mine or Claudia's supervision all the time. I would think that might be embarrassing for someone who is soon to be sixteen, but I'm not sure. If it doesn't embarrass him to throw rocks at other kids, I'm not sure it will embarrass him to be supervised, either. And, of course, the point is not to embarrass him but to gain enough of his attention so that he can realize what he did is inappropriate and choose not to do it again.

On days like this, when worlds collide, I feel a bit cynical about a positive outcome. It has hapened so many times in so many ways with so little change that I want to scream and scream and scream.

But you know what? I've tried that. It doesn't work either.

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