What Would Jesus Do?

Today’s gust post comes from Kristin Wilson, who adores children, chocolate, and running, which helps burn off the chocolate and keeps her sane for the children. A California native, she fell for a Utah boy at BYU and now endures cold Chicago winters. After fourteen years of marriage, Kristin is anxiously awaiting the birth of her sixth child in the next couple of weeks. Her only son is counting on finally getting a brother but only time will tell if his wish has come true. 

“Mom, I can’t jump off the diving board.”

“You did it all last summer when you were only four. I know you can do it now. You’re even bigger than before! How about I get in the water with you and you can jump to me?”

He considered the offer, but still would not be swayed, until a favorite lifeguard and swim instructor offered to take my place during his own work break. Nineteen and cool, our neighbor Blake* lives only three doors down at the end of our court. He remained calm and patient while Tommy stood at the edge of the diving board for what seemed like hours before finally jumping in to the promise of a free treat from the snack bar. A triumphant Tommy scampered off to choose his prize with Blake’s praise ringing in his ears.

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“We’re getting new carpet and Dave needs help moving furniture. Are you available? We will definitely pay you for your time.”

Prompt and helpful, Blake was careful with our things, and patient as our five children clambered for his attention on a warm summer night.

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“Who’s at the door? We aren’t expecting anyone and it’s nearly bedtime.”

The children ran to the window, pulling back the curtain to spy on the front porch visitor. It was Blake. After a discussion at the pool regarding favorite books that afternoon he was bringing by his own copy of Eragon to lend to the older girls. My irritation at this bedtime interruption was quickly relieved by gratitude for his thoughtfulness.

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School started 6 weeks ago and we had hardly seen Blake, until that Monday afternoon. As I pulled into the junior high parking lot to pick up my oldest daughter from play practice, I saw a familiar car parked along the street out in front, straddled by two police vehicles. Two men sat cross legged on the grass nearby, their hands cuffed behind their backs. One looked suspiciously like Blake, but I hoped this were not the case.

Alas, the police blotter headline rang out the next morning with the news that two men had been charged with trying to sell pot at a junior high. The article featured a photo of our neighbor Blake, a hardened expression replacing his softer boyish grin.

Allegedly, Blake and a friend approached some kids at my daughter’s school with an offer to sell pot. The students declined, and went into the school to report what had happened. Pot and other drug related paraphernalia were found in Blake’s car after a police search. He was arrested and my daughter and I saw it.

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We are fortunate enough to live in a very nice suburb of a major city, with great schools, strong wards, a caring community, and plenty of police to over-patrol the area. (I received two speeding tickets for going 11 over in the first 4 months we lived here.) I am sure there is drug activity because I know it is everywhere, but this is the first I have heard of it. Sadly, it has hit close to home.

My husband hopes the judge throws the book at them for trying to sell to kids. I understand his frustration, and hindsight suspicion as to why Blake has been so friendly to our own children. I think of Jesus’ teachings regarding those who harm children. They are pretty harsh, and though this isn’t a case of child abuse, it is definitely a case of intent to harm children.

And then I remember Jesus’ teachings regarding visiting those who are in prison, and in being careful in judgment. Despite differing opinions, such as a perceived belief that two children are all that a family can properly care for (Blake has only one sister), my heart goes out to Blake’s mom. No mother wants to see her child’s picture in the police report section of the newspaper, and I know she loves her son.

The mother bear in me wants to build a fortress between my children and Blake and do everything I can to lock them away from his reach. No more playing in the front yard unless I am right there, despite the safety of the other fabulous neighbors on our court.

Yet, doesn’t Blake need love and kindness now more than ever? According to the newspaper, the man arrested with him has a seedier background and no doubt is not a good influence. How does shunning Blake encourage him to choose a different path than the dark one he is treading down?

Most of the time the whole WWJD idea brings instant clarity to a situation for me; however, this time my path is not quite so clear. What would Jesus do? What would you do?

*Name changed

11 thoughts on “What Would Jesus Do?

  1. I don’t understand why kindness, forgiveness, and love toward this young man and his family should have to involve placing your own children in danger by pretending there is no reason not to trust him. This doesn’t seem like a quandary to me but I have read similar posts before from others.

  2. There isn’t a dichotomy here: befriend and danger or shun and safe-keep. That makes this an extremely difficult position.

    I often have wondered about Christ and the lepers – was there somthing in his devine heritage that made him immune to their disease or was there a risk to his well-being whilst he served them? Did he ever seek out the ill, or did they only come unto him?

    I ask myself if there is a line between unselfishly loving and serving others or protecting my own needs and best interests.

    Your children need to be protected, yet here is an inheritantly good boy who needs to be shown and supported on a better path. Whose responsibility is it and what amount of risk do you accept?

    There’s the story of the boy carrying the snake up the mountain or across the river or wahtever only be be bitten, but is Blake truly a snake? Or is he a lost sheep?

    Can your children’s own security measures (when this situations occurs you do thus) be bolstered while still befriending Blake?

    It’s hard to say. Every situation is different. Let the Spirit guide.

  3. I’ve often thought that the question “What would Jesus Do?” is kind of an unfair, catch-22 question *because* He didn’t have little kids and babies right with him as he approached those who could be dangerous/ill. It’s not just a question of taking on risk myself, but risking leaving the small ones vulnerable. I took risks to help and succor in sub-Saharan Africa a decade ago, but I can’t do that now in my big U.S. city with my four kids in tow.

    And then the question becomes: how do I teach those children to be empathetic and tenderhearted, when I resist setting the example? Is reaching out to Blake worth risking your own child? I’m sure your kids know there is something to be cautious about with Blake now; and then whenever you are all near him, you lead by being unfailingly kind (while maintaining warnings in private). I don’t know–it’s a hard one.

  4. Not sure why your kids can’t play outside anymore. Did Blake normally come and play with your kids when they were outside?
    I sent my 12 year old child to youth activities knowing there was someone (an older teenager) who was “unsafe” to be around children, however, I believed that since he was a YM he deserved to attend and it would have been wrong to object to his attendance. However, once he aged out (unbeknownst to me he was actually 19 when he graduated) and he attended a youth activity at someone’s home, I called the YW president and told her I thought it was inappropriate for 20 year olds to hang around youth activities and could she please be prepared to invited him to leave next time.
    It does require some thought, and some talking to kids, and definite boundaries, but it doesn’t require witch hunts or shunning.

  5. Well, first of all, I think considering what Jesus would do means something pretty clear. Friendship and kindness are needed, not just for Blake, but his whole family. That doesn’t mean you have to leave him alone with your children. In the examples you gave of Blake’s kindness, it never seemed like he was even alone with them then. I think the Bible is pretty clear about forgiveness and turning the other cheek. That doesn’t mean you should let Blake take care of your children, but I don’t think you have to get up and run away if you ever see him at the pool again. I guess what I am saying is- which action brings you closer to the Lord? To me, I think charity is pretty clearly at the heart of our religion, and so that’s what you need to practice.

  6. blake was caught trying to sell drugs to school age children. First, we are calling him guilty, I assume the trail and sentencing is over. The court will place limitations on Blake if he is found quilty. One of the common limitations is that he can not contact or interact with children for a period of time. Your children need to know what has happened to friend Blake. This is a teaching experience about many things. Use it wisely. As it came up in another comment posting, if a 19 or 20 year old is attending YM who is considered “unsafe” around children by the courts,the leadership needs to look into his legal situation so they do not cause him to violate court orders and an adult needs to be with him at all times. (lesson learned the hard way)

  7. It is really sad to think that he was only befriending your children to get them to want to buy drugs.
    My oldest is a missionary in Chicago 3rd right now. I don’t know what part of Chicago you live..but if you see a happy blond haired blue eyed Hermana..that would be my first born. :)

  8. Like Rachel, I’m thinking about Blake’s family…especially his Mom. She must be feeling pretty worried, discouraged, and maybe even like a lousy mom. Wouldn’t it be great to tell her the things you told us about Blake’s kindnesses? That would be such a blessing to her, and by extension, to Blake. She would be reminded that there is much good in her son, she would be encouraged that others appreciate him, and it might give her some much-needed strength to mother Blake well during this critical time.
    There’s no risk for your children to do this. It would just cost you a phone call or note.

  9. What Kate said.

    We are surrounded by people with paths and secrets we’re not privy to. That was just part of the deal, coming to this earth. Let the holy spirit guide. The kind, generous feelings you had for him before may have been the spirit helping you to feel compassion and love for him now. We all know people whose lives have been turned around, utterly around, because of the friendship and lack of JudgyMcJudgersonness that we’re so famous for. I’d explain the situation the the kids, establish some boundaries for them, and check in regularly about everything–not just the Blakes in your life. Learning to establish and maintain healthy boundaries with people who have flubbed up creates opportunities for THEM to improve and change, and promotes healing. He was probably put in your path for a reason, and if it’s just plain old fear and not a warning inspired by the holy ghost, then set it aside and bake some brownies for them (pot-free!) (KIDDING!) (I mean, i”m NOT kidding, just jesting!) ♥

  10. “Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down, or resisiting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other.” –Elder Marvin J. Ashton

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