The drama next door has proved to be excellent fodder for teaching my kids the benefits of discipline. I mean, nothing says “I do it because I love you” better than observing the neighboring teenagers swear all day long, come and go whenever they please, and threaten your dad.
“Do we let you get away with stuff like that?” I asked Ruthie the other day.
“Do you understand why?”
“Nobody loves that kid enough to correct him when he gets sassy,” I said. “Nobody bothers to tell him it’s wrong and disrespectful to treat people that way, and now he’s full of anger and tries to bully other people. We discipline you because we love you.”
People keep asking how I’m doing, knowing a stranger was in my house while we slept, six feet from my kids’ bedroom. Am I scared? Feeling unsafe? Angry? And the answer is (surprisingly): not really.
I’ve touched on all those emotions briefly, but for the most part I’ve seen God unfolding a bigger picture. He loves these kids, and he desires to discipline them so their hearts are turned toward wisdom and away from folly. As I see Bryan reaching out to these boys – talking to them like men, calling them to account, and telling them what is right – I see that God is using us to show them what it means to be loved through discipline.
And to clarify, I don’t think either of the neighbor kids or the 2-3 friends I see there daily actually DID the burglary, but their actions and activities invite a certain peripheral crowd into the neighborhood that they can’t really control.
Like the time their tires were slashed by a kid because they wouldn’t let him inside the house. They say that kid doesn’t come around anymore, but who knows. There are so many.
All this to say, we take precautions to protect our family, we keep a watchful eye, and we don’t trust a word they tell us apart from their actions. But we love them, and we hold out hope, and we tell them the Truth as long as they’ll let us.
And so far, they let us.