While I was out getting a little exercise the other day, I overheard a snippet of a conversation. I had just gotten to the path by a neighborhood playground when I came up on two boys. They couldn’t have been more than 10 years old. They didn’t notice me. I’d heard them talking as I approached, but I wasn’t really listening. I was thinking through my empty refrigerator trying to mentally write a grocery list. I get so much done when I walk.
Evidently one of the boys had just suggested something sordid. As I approached them, there was that quiet, contemplative lull accompanied by two very serious faces, and just as I passed the smaller one blurted out, “I can’t do that. My momma would kill me.”
Now what had been suggested, I don’t know. They both had skateboards, so maybe it had something to do with those. What I do know is that one of them had been given some very clear expectations. There was no reflection in his statement, no questioning, no uncertainty. He knew without a doubt exactly what his mother would think of this prospective activity.
I kept walking, so my ability to eavesdrop was hindered by my speedy feet. If there was any more to the conversation, I didn’t hear. What I did notice was that before I circled the park, the two boys had parted ways, and whatever the nefarious possibility was, it had been skewered by a child’s desire to not have to deal with an angry mom.
Now some may see this as negative reinforcement, but I think it has a positive side.
One little boy standing there, facing a choice, knew exactly what his momma would want him to do, and his desire to obey her won out over his friend’s prodding.
I think that’s good.
It gave him clarity, and I think with time the voice of his mom will give way to his own voice quietly reminding him of the man he wants to be, of what he believes is right, of what he knows to be true, and as life-defining choices fly at him, he will be ready.
He will know what he believes because someone else shared their experience and insight.
He will have years of making choices as a foundation because someone thought to set some boundaries for him and let him choose.
He will not be so fearful of discipline anymore because now he knows what love looks like and that perfect love casts out fear.
I wanted to follow that kid home and tell his momma how she’d helped him stand up to peer pressure, but I didn’t.
I decided to tell you instead, and I’ll leave you with this, perhaps the best thing next to the fear of God is the fear of a well-meaning, clearly understood momma.
Making good choices in life isn’t easy. It involves making some mistakes, having good guidance, and listening to our hearts. Peace!
“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21