September 18, 2011

Why Do We Stay Silent?

I'm feeling thinky, so we might trudge through some deep water today.  Just warning you...

Her voice, filled with the venom of self hatred, could be heard throughout the store.  Her need for attention, good or bad, triumphed over self preservation as she slung words at her daughter.  Our entire family stood in shock at what we heard her say to her wee one.  I cringed as my own children were exposed to words we have worked so hard to protect them from.  I said a prayer for her daughter, the receiver of the poisonous words. It was only a brief encounter, but long enough for my husband to shake his head at her vehemence and her anger to turn on him.  We walked away, to not add fuel to her fire.

We walked away.  Those three words have burned a hole in my heart for three days.
We walked away.  Why didn't we do more?  Why did we leave that little one in the hands of a woman so filled with hatred the only way to live is by spewing ugliness and abuse.
Why did we walk away?  Why didn't we stand up for the weak?  Why didn't we call the police?  Why didn't we step in?  I've replayed the "should haves" in my mind over and over.

I was hoping we were on the 20/20 special "What Would You Do?"  Surely John Quinones would step out with his camera crew and we could hang our heads in shame for not stepping up to the plate.  But there were no actors involved.  Only a little girl enduring yet another public tirade.

So I asked myself why didn't I do something?  I was reminded of another time a child was involved in a helpless situation.  My own child.  Her teacher was out of line; a bad attitude on life left its mark on her students, every single day.  Everything within me wanted, needed to confront her.  Why were her students paying the price of her unhappiness?  My daughter was losing her love of school and I couldn't do anything to stop it.  Why didn't I say something?  I think it was the same reason I didn't do anything the other night.
Fear.
Not fear of what the adult involved might do to me, but how much worse will I make it for the child?  If I had confronted the teacher, she had the power to make the rest of the school year miserable for my daughter.  If I had confronted the angry mother at the store, I could have made life much harder on the little girl when she got home.  I'm not saying I made the right choice.  I know I didn't.  I'm just verbalizing my rationalization.
Fear of making things worse overrode my willingness to try to make it better.  But I have to ask myself:
At what point are we willing to not be silent?

A sweet friend reminded me that even though I didn't do anything for that child right then, I now have the power to spread her message to others to pray for her.  What could be greater than the prayers of a multitude?  Don't just pray for the child.  That momma needs Jesus' gift of love more than anything.  She's got a whole lot of hurt going on.  Will you join me and help me break my silence?

9 comments:

Tracey said...

Prayer is the only thing that's going to help this momma...even if you had said something to her.

Maybe this is why you've carried the burden for three days...so you could pray and the rest of us could join in.

Thank you so much for sharing your heart.

Nichole @ The Pumpkin Seed said...

I've been in similar situations and carried the same guilt after not saying anything.

I'll say a prayer for them too.

Alice Lynn Alfred said...

Such a thought provoking post....something I will need to chew on....thank you for sharing, and challenging!!

Thoughts for the day said...

Been there at times, not speaking up when your heart is burning with a desire to just 'slap' the parent and shake them... not really in a physical way but it is awful to be a part of child abuse, emotional or physical or any other ... words are hurtful. Worse even when it is a child who is innocent and can't and does not dare speak back. Prayer is good and helpful but next time I think to call 911 would be the 'way' to go. They may not be able to do anything about verbal abuse, unfortunately the scars are not as evident as a black eye. But at least you would know you have tried.

Sherri said...

I'm praying right now - for both the mom and the child.

Michele said...

I've been where you are before. I agree with your friend. . . it's the mom who needs the love of Jesus.. . .which it is our responsibility to be His hands and feet. Ravi Zacharias says, "The greatest temptation is to do the right thing in the wrong way." It's so important when we share His love that WE don't get in the way. . . i.e., or people will come out feeling very unloved, judged, condemned, and criticized. . . and our efforts will be in vain. There is such a fine line there. I've found in my own life when I first have mourned over my own sin, and then mourn over the sins of others, then I am much more successful at sharing the love of Christ rather than ME getting in the way of that. Hope this helps :) Have a GREAT day!

Kellie said...

Hmmm... we do walk away from things like this because of fear. Sad but the truth. Prayer is the best thing for this situation. Only God can change the heart of the woman. Only God can change the future for that young child. Only God...

KR said...

If that sweet little girl had not suffered yet another public humiliation, in front of you, none of us would be praying for her. God makes jewels from ashes. I am sorry that happened to you, because you feel sick about it. But, it's good, because otherwise, maybe no one, no one, would be praying for them. Also, your kids probably know even more now the love you have for them.

Anonymous said...

As the mother of a special needs child who can be particularly demanding and exhausting, I know it is 'only there but by the grace of God, go we...' Perhaps she had used up the very last wee bit of patience she had in that moment. It sounds like she perhaps had, ummm, not the most ideal upbringing herself, but I am praying that she will be helped to show love to her sweet child.