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The other day, my family and I got a hankering to go get some ice cream (when I say we, of course, I mean me), so we went to a local fast food place for an ice cream cone. We went outside to the sitting area and there was another family already out there. Now, I am a stickler for rules. I believe rules are there for a reason. And so when I went out to the sitting area, blazoned all over the place were signs that said “No Smoking.” And guess what that family was doing—that’s right, the adults all had cigarettes in their mouths.
Now I was angry about that, but I didn’t say anything, because I didn’t want to stir up trouble. My girls wanted to go and play on the playground, but this family was being so loud that I told my girls just to hurry up and eat their ice cream. That is when it happened. One of their kids started to climb and walk on the fence. Yes, I said the fence. The big fence surrounding the entire playground.
It was then that the mom yelled out at the kid with a distasteful four letter vocabulary. This was followed by another four letter word, and he was yanked down. I gave that mom about the meanest look you could give a person and then I said out loud to where everyone could hear me, “I think it’s time we left.” We then got up and left.
Now, a few things about our response as we left. First, there was my response. I wanted to go to the parents and say, “Don’t come back until you learn how to behave and treat your kids right!” I was focused on the parents and how bad they were.
Second, there was my wife’s response. She said, “Barry that is so sad. How does a kid make it when that is what they grow up with?”
She was focused more on the sadness that the kids were going through, while I was focused more on the badness of the parents.
She then began to mention ways that as a church, we should counterbalance that type of family.
Now which response would you have had? I wonder what kind of response Jesus would have?
(Barry Robinson is the pastor of Williamstown United Methodist Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 859-823-5171.)