“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy…” Luke 10:19
I’ve sheltered my kids greatly, trying to protect them from the evil in this world. I wanted their childhoods to be carefree and innocent. I wanted them wearing rose colored glasses for as long as possible.
Similarly, my whole approach to teaching them their faith has been focused on a loving God, Jesus as their friend. I wanted their motivation for making right choices to be based on their love for God, not on fear. I wanted them to do the right thing because it would please God and further His kingdom. Consequently, I’ve left fear and evil out of the curriculum for everything. What happened with my nephew Derek has me questioning my whole approach.
I now realize that I’m not adequately preparing my kids for real life. Although this Scripture passage is about Jesus giving the disciples the ability to overcome all the power of the enemy, I believe God gives us moms this power too. Our power is knowledge and wisdom. If we don’t wield our power, we can’t help our kids overcome the enemy.
I now see that not only are we supposed to teach our kids about God’s great love and compassion, but we’re supposed to teach them about the evils and dangers that exist in our world too. And we’re not supposed to wait until they’re teenagers to do so. If we do wait that long, they’re going to get their information from their peers first. Their friends aren’t necessarily going to have their facts straight; plus they will be adding peer pressure to the mix. If we don’t step up to the plate and be the first ones to convey the information, we are leaving our kids vulnerable. If we do step up to the plate, we can be the ones who teach our children the difficult lessons with love and compassion, and in the doses that are age-appropriate and tailored to who they are as individuals, and how they take in information.
Mason was with me when I got the call about Derek. We had literally just left the house, on our way to volunteer together for Mercy Works: our church’s day of service, an endeavor to actively pour out God’s mercy on those in need. I had to pull over on my street as I tried to absorb the news. Poor Mason didn’t have a clue as to why I was sobbing into my phone.
When I hung up, I got out of the front seat and climbed into the back with him. In that moment, I had a choice: I could either sugar coat things to preserve his innocence, or play it straight and tell him the truth. It was probably Derek himself who prompted me to choose the latter. I had the strong conviction that there could be some good that could come out of this horrific event. If telling my son the whole truth about the evil of heroine at the age of nine would prevent him from ever trying it, that far outweighed my desire to preserve his innocence.
Heroine addiction is an epidemic in this country, and, for some reason, more so in our State of New Hampshire. There are conflicting reports as to whether addiction begins the first time you try it or not. Either way, the general consensus is that the first experience is so intense, even if the addiction isn’t there right away, the desire is. Not too long after, the body will crave it mercilessly forever; and life without it will be a living hell.
I have made some right choices in life based on fear. Peer pressure can be intense. It takes a very strong person to stand firm in the face of it. Looking back over my life, it’s very clear to me that I wasn’t strong enough to overcome some peer pressure, but I sure was scared enough to. Some may say that’s not healthy. But I can tell you, I am grateful for that fear nonetheless.
Therefore, I have knowingly been planting the seeds of fear of heroine in my boys’ minds over the past couple of days (Jocelyn is still only five – her lessons will come later). I plan to take them to the wake and funeral too. Not only do I want them to pay their respects to their cousin, but I want them to witness the heartbreak and loss to water those seeds so they grow deep roots into their little psyches.
Zack views life in black and white. If I continue to teach this lesson, he’ll buy in and never give in. Mason is a different story. He’s incredibly easy going and malleable. The danger in that is he can easily be manipulated by anyone out of his desire to please. In the face of someone trying to convince him that it’s okay to try heroine, he might give in.
Our God is a loving and compassionate God. I like to think that He allows us to do good once we cross over to the other side. In my mind, having Mason in the car with me when I got the news was God allowing Derek to do good in the midst of this horrific event. Mason witnessing my raw devastation in our car Saturday morning will forever be seared into his little heart. If that memory is what causes him to walk away when someone is trying to get him to try heroine in the future, that will be Derek’s gift to him, and to all of us.