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Do the Right Thing

We sent Little J off to summer camp this past week, and while at first I thought it would nice to have a break from the teen angst that accompanies teenage-dom, I have to admit that I miss him.  I miss the sound of the guitar playing in our home and the belly laugh that accompanies a funny joke.  Of course, I don’t miss the complaining or sarcasm, but you take the good with the bad.  And I’ve misplace my SD card, so I don’t have any pictures of him trying to leave without a good-bye hug (NOT gonna happen!).

There seems to be a lot of that going around lately – the good with the bad, I mean.  First it was the whole Penn State/Joe Paterno thing.  It’s an emotionally confusing situation to deal with when you take the long view.  He made an awful lot of good decisions in his life, and raised a family that continues to love and support him.  But his failure to report the abuses he knew of had grave consequences for the children involved – he failed to do the right thing when it counted.

The (brilliantly and humorously delivered) video of the You Are Not Special commencement speech that went viral this summer was initially received in one of two ways:

1)      “That’s right, young generation – get off your butt and quit being lazy!” or

2)      “Hey!  Don’t talk about me like that – consider your own role in all this mess”

I was honestly surprised at the emotional response this particular speech generated.  As a matter of fact, one young-generation-lazy-individual was moved enough to write a well-written and convicting (albeit angry) response.

If you listen to the speech a little more carefully, however, the speaker was making an honest point about these graduates being on the level playing field of life – where their decisions will truly be their own; and that he hoped those decisions wouldn’t be based on measures of success that our cultures deems valuable.  Encouraging our graduates to do the right thing when it counted in life.

So where does that leave us?  A good man with an irrevocably marred reputation.  An honest speech marred by emotional response due to lack of perspective.  And my mind can’t help but make a correlation between who we are as Christian people, and how we respond to God.

There are those times in life when not doing the right thing has far greater consequences than one could ever anticipate.  And it’s a tough call.  Sometimes doing the right thing seems more painful than ignoring the situation.

I think that part of the parenting process is being able to exercise that wisdom – to know which decisions really matter in the long run, and which ones are inconsequential.  There are so many, many preferences that come into play when it comes to kids: hair, clothes, meals, colors, smells…you name it, my kids have an opinion on it.

But there comes a time when the tough call has to be made, too.  And making those calls can sometimes be scary – sometimes we’re never really sure if the right decision was made.  It gives me a lot of comfort to know that God is in control of things here.  It allows me to take the good and the bad with a lot more grace than I probably would otherwise.

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