They answered, "Yes."
My question and their response rang out into the thick of the battle between angry siblings in the car on the way to church. "If we cannot be ladies and gentlemen, speaking life to each other, then we will walk home!" The words escaped my mouth, fully aware of their power, challenging me to the core. I lamented wearing high heels!
Sure enough, my favorite two hours of the week, spent in church, were not to be. One of our precious crew, who refused to be kind, held onto his anger, and reacted in violence, watched my actions as I handed the car keys to my girlfriend, clasped his hand and together we left the building!
We trekked up the steep hill from the parking lot where the wide, sloping road met our eyes.
"Wow," he exclaimed, hoisting a stick into the air like a knight ready to charge, "this is going to be fun!" He leapt ahead, teetering on the raised asphalt divider, along the embankment. He asked for photos of everything, posing for a few to send to Daddy, on a weekend trip with Malachi, and big brothers Gabriel and Elias (who remember a similar, though much shorter walk in their younger days, when no one could think of a reason to be thankful). In a two sentence summary titled, Why are we here?, I made sure my adventuresome counterpart knew this was his 'consequence'. He nodded enthusiastically!
After the first hour, several good friends and strangers, driving back from the service, or on their way elsewhere, asked if we were well, broken down or needed help. My pretty purse, pencil skirt and patent leather shoes must have indicated something was amiss. When a sweet friend offered to swap shoes, holding her Toms to the window, I realized the pain of the high heels was necessary, strange as this may sound. Our delighted boy's hand, holding tightly to mine, became sweaty. We stopped several times to shake stray gravel bits from our shoes. Finally he looked up at me, though I'd made no other mention of our reason for walking, and asked, "Why did I choose to be so naughty?" I smiled at him wearily, and we kept walking.
Around 100 meters from the house, he dropped my hand and took off running to tell his siblings, who'd passed us in the car on the way, all about our two hour journey. I hobbled in the door to the tender reception of my girlfriend Andrea, who always wrestles adventures in life well, and Magdalene, who compassionately poured me coffee.
I peeled off my pumps, examined my feet and related the conclusion I needed to voice. I hope our boy will remember this lesson, but even if he doesn't, I will. As we walked, I'd thought of struggling brothers and sisters in other countries, fleeing their homes, walking for days, unsure of where their road will lead. In my pain, after the first hour and a half, I also thought of the road Jesus walked for me. I imagined His suffering along the way to Golgotha and His sacrifice on the cross and of course, his guiding hand of grace. Yet all I was doing was walking out simple consequences with our feisty child! On this sometimes rocky road of parenting and living in general, whether the rough terrain is due to my own choices or someone else's, and in the wider, far more serious torment of fellow citizens on the streets of our planet, I know the Truth; God will never leave us or forsake us. He is with me, our boy and you. These daily lessons keep me grounded, encourage my prayers and draw my eyes up to the goal, far from this temporal journey. For now, hand in hand, its one foot in front of the other!