Last night our ladies' small group discussed boundaries we had as children and how we knew that meant we were loved, even if we didn't like those boundaries. (This is what happens when the lesson only applies to one person in the group...all the rest of us share memories!) I shared a story from tenth grade, where I was complaining about my curfew and how my parents never let me do anything. A girl in the group later pulled me into the hall. She was crying and mad. Her family attended church regularly and they all claimed to be Christians. She told me she never wanted to hear me complain about how much my parents loved me ever again. Her brother had come home the night before at 2am, drunk, threw up in his bed, slept in it, and her parents never knew when he came home, that he was sick, and never once checked on him. She said her parents never asked her what she did with friends, and she wished her parents had cared enough about her to set some parameters in place to protect from her boys so she wouldn't have made some of the mistakes she made. She was crying and upset. Her parting words were, "I wish my parents cared enough to give and enforce rules."
I've been thinking about those things a lot the last two days. A boy I knew (he attended our church for a while) has been arrested for robbery, murder, and assault on a corpse. The whole article sounds like something you might hear about on CSI or Criminal Minds, not something from minuscule Cordova, AL. The police don't have all the details yet, but the bond was raised to a million dollars once they discovered some of the facts.
He attended the same church camp I did, sat under the same teachings I did, and yet is now being charged with not only shooting someone to death, but horrifically chopping up the body and then throwing the parts alongside the wooded highway while driving down the road.
I remember listening to adults talk to my parents about this boy and his situation. He was 11 and weighed 300 pounds, if not more. His Mom always gave him what he wanted to keep peace in the house. Many of the adults in our church felt this was nothing short of child abuse. A few months before he moved away, his Mom had surgery and he lived with his aunt for two weeks while she recovered. I remember the aunt telling Dad how the first week was really tough, but she and her husband decided to stick to their rules for their boys. But whereas she had trouble getting her boys to eat everything on their plate, for her nephew she limited him to two full plates a meal, and only fruit for snacks (which is what she let her boys have). He lost 50 pounds in those two weeks, and was absolutely thrilled. He undid his belt at church to show us how big his pants were. We were horrified that he had lost so much weight that his pants were that big (his aunt bought him a new belt) but that we couldn't tell by looking at him that he had lost weight.
I look at situations around me and see how lack of boundaries and rules, or willingness to abide by them, make for horrible situations. But then I look at the Bible and think of how many times I read a command and think, "That's just too hard." It all goes back to boundaries and the love that instills them. When I focus on myself and what I can or can't do, then the Christian life sometimes seems unreasonable. But when I focus on the One who set those boundaries and his love for me, things don't seem quite so bad. I guess I shouldn't complain or protest that I have a God who loves me so much that he tries to protect me.