Too young to know . . .

“Mayberry’s basket ball team”. 

“Mayberry’s basketball team”. 

He kept repeating this as if it were a code. 

“Mayberry’s basketball team”. 

I made note of this, of the fact my student seemed to be trying to communicate something with others – but I had no idea what.  I thought – I’ll wait this out.  I knew by the way he was speaking it was just a matter of time . . .

As the clocked ticked to 6:00pm one night last week,  my class settled into their seats and we d handed out books.  Some light hearted banter on where we were in our book.  A difference of opinion  – because two of the five had not made it to the last class.   We hadn’t been together since the holidays so we caught up on what everyone did with their free time.  How boring a week off is to middle school kids in the middle of winter.  Stuck home of course with parents at work. 

This week we read about Lust and I discussed Love and the difference between the two.

“hahaha”  “Mayberry’s basket ball team”.   ~ Guess who pipped up again!?!

So I went there.  What about Mayberry’s basketball team?

Lust. 

It is hard to sort between the truth and the rumor – which I pointed out.  It seems a young girl “sexted”… took a (possibly) naked torso, photo selfie of herself and sent it to (one?) boy.  Not clear.  Regardless – the entire basketball team ended up with her sexted selfie on their phones.

Oh sweet Jesus, help me here. 

Damage control.

Turning their shock, giggles and confusion – to God was what I did.  It’s what we should all be doing.

Too young to know.  Babies.  Young, inexperience.  Hurting.  Dying.

As I sat there for a moment before speaking. An article I read last week online came to mind.  A twelve year old girl, on Facebook “live” spoke of sexual abuse, beatings, and an almost rape nintchdbpict000293890784(I am going to assume assault that ended before penetration because that is the what “almost” rape brings to mind).  She said good-bye and kicked the bucket she was standing on out from under her.  Her body dangled on live camera for twenty minutes.  I have not seen, nor do I wish to see the video.  Her name is? was?   Katelyn.  It should burn into the soul of anyone knowing her story.  Tragic death at her own hands at – twelve years old.  Not much more than a baby!  Make up worn as a twenty year old might, certainly not a twelve year old child.

Last year in the news was a story of young girl who also committed suicide.  There was a video posted online of her father standing behind her after cutting off all of her beautiful long hair.  Not released at the time as it was so soon, was the full images-washingtonpost-comstory the police have.  This young girl also sent a photo or photo’s to a boy and her father had warned her. Cutting her hair was his punishment for her focus on her beauty (?).  While stopped at traffic light in her grandmothers car she jumped from the bridge shortly after her hair cut, hit a car driving below and died the next day.  By  the grace of God the person in the car her body hit… survived.  Izabel.  Age?  13.

The local girl?  Middle school age. 11385561_490093151156376_1319894834_n Between the ages of 11 – 14.

This particular class was my eighth grade group.  I knew I needed to make them understand this wasn’t funny, a “dirty” joke.  A serious matter that had to be handled delicately even by them as that may prevent the loss of a life.  We are responsible for each other in this life, we are responsible as disciples of Jesus, children of God.

I explained that they were correct.  Sexy photo’s were indeed used to draw attention but that being done in this way did not bring love, it did bring lust “but” our job here is to love this girl. That surprised them a bit.  I explained we are responsible as disciples of Jesus, children of God.

Silence.

I further explained;

We do not know the true story.  You have shared rumors (which I figuratively stepped on as they were brought up).  We cannot judge, first of all it is not our place.  Secondly, if this is true – how do you think the young girl feels?  Someone who feels good about themselves doesn’t do this to draw attention.  I explained that I felt if they were old enough to experience this situation and be talking about it, then they needed to walk with Jesus and follow what He would have done.  I asked them to think about (but did not have to share) something they may have done that they are not proud of and think how it would feel if the entire school (or) town knew about it.  They did think about it and were able in their own ways to understand.

I asked them what the second greatest commandment that Jesus gave us is. . .

“What’s that?”

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We don’t know what has happened in this young girls life, that would bring her to the point that she would, if she did, send “sexy” images of herself to anyone.  We must pray for her.  If you are in school tomorrow and people start gossiping or laughing what should you do?  Tell them you feel sorry for the girl  (at this point they did feel sorry for her), and feel sorry for the basketball team or whoever… too.  You are not going to gossip about it, it is not funny.  It’s sad.  Walk with Jesus.  Be kind.

We talked about this for a few more minutes, until I felt they all heard what was being communicated.  We talked about judging people and how that is God’s job and if we know someone has done something wrong or sinned we should pray for them, never belittle them.  We cannot spread God’s love when we participate in further hurting His children. 

“What about the story of Jesus and the woman?  The crowd of men who wanted to stone her?”  What did Jesus do?  He stood by her side.  He said “Let you who is without sin cast the first stone”, none did.  The men turned and walked away.  This I explained is how each and everyone of us (looking at each face) are to walk with Jesus.  Protect this girl by not gossiping, not saying hurtful things.  If you do see her in school again, don’t laugh or be mean.  Be kind.  God is within us, it is our job as Christians, as good human beings to be kind.

Note:  This matter was brought to the principals office, students were in suspension in school.  I did share this information with my director.

There are so many humans in our world who need to be treated with love and kindness.  There are many young people and families who need help, kindness, patience, love.  Safe places and safe people to turn to.  Unfortunately, as I have written in other articles there is a gross shortage of therapists and counselors to work with families and young people before they get to this point in their life, where they act out sexually (often from unknown abuse), or in other ways.  Drinking, drugs, school.  Therapists and counselors are a tool but every day any one of us can step up and speak up.  Set a good example, don’t bully, be kind. 

What would Jesus do?  We must be sure we are setting an example, raising a bar in a helpful – never hurtful way.

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