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.
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?