Do you know where your children are on their journey of life? Could they be at or approaching a crossroad which may impact their destiny if they make the wrong choice? While my favorites are humorous and uplifting stories, tonight I am writing about my observation of the life of another in my “journey along the way.”
He was a tiny young tike on his tricycle riding alongside his parents as they took an evening stroll near their home in my neighborhood in a small coal camp town in Eastern KY. He was a shy, fair-skinned little fellow with sandy hair and was the absolute joy of his parents’ lives. He was quiet natured and timid. He was their only son and a blessing of adoption in an era when people seldom adopted.
His parents were an incredible couple who were devout in their Christian faith and well-respected members of their community. His mother worked at the local bank and was a kind lady who was friendly to everybody and who greeted neighbors sitting on their porches, inviting them to church while on her evening strolls.
Because he was several years younger than me, we never really got acquainted. I graduated from high school and had children. Several years later he graduated from high school, got drafted and went off to fight in the Vietnam War. It would be years later when that seasoned soldier returned from war and the innocence of that little boy I remembered was left behind on a battlefield on foreign soil.
This morning, many decades later, the man he became and the one I never knew–killed 3 people and then took his own life. I am shocked, stunned and sad all at the same time.
Was it anger, desperation or a total loss of hope that caused these senseless acts of violence? If it was, then how and at what point in his life did this happen? Was it chemical dependency? No one can say for sure but autopsy results will eventually reveal the truth. Meanwhile it’s not my job to pass judgment or to speculate. I have only walked in my own shoes and earned my own sets of blisters.
Surely there was a crossroad along this young man’s journey. We all have crossroads at varying points in our lives. Sometimes we are the ones at the crossroad and sometimes it is our children. So I pose these questions: Do you know where your children are tonight? Do you know who their friends are and what those friends are about? Do you know what your children do, where they go (or what they use) for recreation?
If you toss your teenagers car keys, a mobile phone and a credit card and expect the world to be their guardians, don’t be surprised when they disappoint you with their choices. You are giving them freedom without boundaries when they lack the maturity to know how to handle it.
When your children are wrong (& I promise they will be some day), show them grace when they need it and tough love when they need that as well.
Show some respect for the Veterans who fought wars they didn’t ask to fight and show some compassion for the struggles they face when they return home. If you know a Vietnam vet, perhaps it’s not too late to say “thank you.”
As for me, I mourn 4 lives lost tonight for reasons that were not worth the price. I mourn the wounded little boy no one remembers who lost his way on a treacherous journey…..and those on the journey with him who were lost and wounded as well.
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