What Not to Say, (But you did anyway)

Alektorophobia- The extreme fear of chickens. (While I suppose anything is possible, I am still trying to figure out why you'd be afraid of a chicken.)

Anthropophobia- The fear of people (This one I entirely understand! We can be quite a scary species....especially if you are a chicken!) 

Story 2:

A few weeks back, we went to check out another local congregation. It was a small church housed in a very small building, one where the nursery also acted as the resource room, Sunday school room, storage room, hallway into the Fellowship room, and probably a bunch of other things come to think of it. Anyway, it was really quaint and we more than doubled the size of their kid population.  

After meeting the Minister on our way in, he introduced us to the woman who was in charge of their rather meager children's ministry. She explained that the older kids would stay with us in church until after the sermon when she would get them so that they could do some kid activities during the remainder of the service. Thinking this strange, (because if my kids are going to be taken out of the church, certainly it should be before the sermon so that I can listen, no?) we nodded that we understood, leaving Solly and Liam in the nursery and then made our way into the little sanctuary. It was no bigger than a tiny chapel at most churches, complete with a dozen or so wooden pews, a pulpit in the left hand corner and an organ in the right. The alter was so plain, I do not even recall seeing it, though I do think there was one under the cross on the wall. 

At any rate, the preacher was a fairly docile yet dynamic man who had marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. many long moons ago. Improvising at one point in the service, he called the children forward (I got the distinct impression that that wasn't usually done at this church) and then he asked if they knew what a "leper" was. None of them did. So he explained leprosy to the children and then walked to the back of the room and yelled out (not that he would have had to do so since it was only a hop, skip and jump away) "If you were a leper, you'd have to stay this far away from everyone and if you came through a crowd you had to call out at the top of your voice: UNCLEAN! UNCLEAN! UNCLEAN!" 

The kids were wide-eyed and fully attentive. He sent them back to their seats and began his sermon. 

His sermon began with a poem that seemed to me slightly ill-suited for young children, to say the least. Something about who the lepers are today but with vivid words about drug addicts who are better off dead and the like. He then spoke about modern day lepers, using Whitney Houston as an example; someone who was haunted by her multiple addictions and a sense of isolation.

And then he went to tell this story:

What he actually said: "Others are people of infamy. Like the psychotic mother who took the life of her son when the voices told her to kill him. As we often did at the legal rights center when I was there, we took her case. Not because she was innocent, she was not. But because it was the right thing to do. She was a human being. The most obvious of lepers: a decrepit sinner, who had stabbed her son more than one hundred times."*

What I heard: And the psychotic mother, having gone off her meds, brutally murdered her son when the voices in her head told her to kill him. And she took a knife, a machete perhaps, and stabbed him, over and over, 100 times, watching the warm blood slowing oozing from his body......(etc etc, you get my point.)

What Aidan heard: Your parents have voices in their heads, Aidan. Evil voices that tell them to do bad things. I am one of them and I am telling them to get rid of you. Yes, YOU! Whatever you do, do NOT EVER. GO. TO. SLEEP. AGAIN!  BWAH HA HA HA HA!

Aidan anxiously looked up at Kurt, now wide-eyed and mouth dropping open with worry. And I stopped listening and began tickling Lily in hopes that she would not hear what was being said. (She creates her own fears and anxieties at this point and we certainly do not need help creating more for her!)

After we got home, Aidan came to me terrified and spoke of his concern about the story he heard during church. He asked if it were true, had that mom really done that?

"Yes, Aidan, it was true. But you do not need to worry. Dad and I are not going to kill you.....we put in far too much time, effort and energy raising you to do something like that," I said, teasingly, trying to make light of it.

"But why did she do it?" he wanted to know, ignoring my ridiculous attempt at humor. So what did I do? I immediately took a different approach at comforting him by launching into a ten minute lesson on the nature of Schizophrenia. You know, to my nine year old....(Seriously, who DOES that?)

"Well, do you and dad have that?" he asked, horrified.

"No, no one in our immediate family has it, Aidan," I reassured him. 

"Well, how do you know?" he asked. 

"Because we just do. It would have presented itself by now and none of us have the symptoms. Well, obviously Solomon is not old enough to diagnosis it but I am fairly confident he won't have it either," I told him, digging myself a little deeper.

"Well, what if he does?" he asked, now worried again.

"He doesn't," I said. "And even if he did, he can't get out of his crib yet so you have nothing to worry about right now." I realized at this point that this was not going very well, so in attempt to make it better I went on to say, in a less than shining moment, "Aidan, you don't need to worry about it. As a matter of fact, you actually know people who have it and they haven't ever hurt you.....but I am not going to tell you who, because I don't want you to worry about it." 

That's great, Karen, really. Now he'll be forever afraid OF EVERYONE.

*The entirety of the sermon quoted above can be viewed here. (Pastor Gordon Stewart, Shepherd of the Hills Presbyterian Church, Chaska, MN.....Which, in their defense, is a lovely congregation with just a few minor details that need to be worked out for younger families to truly feel at ease....)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for leaving your comments and feedback! I am humbled by your presence in this place.