Our van was broken into Sunday after church. My wallet was stolen, as was our GPS, a pack of gum & my keys. (Why they didn't just take the van, I don't know.) This was violating - obviously - & quite eye-opening. I am often careless with my possessions. I leave them out in the open, or unlocked, giving no thought to them being taken... or not. (FYI: The van was locked & my purse was under the front seat. The GPS was in the window.)
I cried & cried. Andrew cried, too, & at first, I was far too into myself, my hurt, my loss, & my own tears to absorb those of my son. After realizing how upset he was, I calmed down, held him, called the Atlanta PD & brought both of my boys back inside the church while Ben waited for the police.
On our walk back to the church, with cheeks tear-stained, Andrew told four parishioners on the way to their cars what happened to ours. No one listened to him. One man actually smiled & nodded, telling us to "Have a nice day." Having your car broken into is very traumatic, especially for a child, & it was so hard for me to watch my aching baby's voice being ignored when he really needed to be heard.
It wasn't until he told the head of children's church that he was finally heard. She not only heard him, she validated his frustration - When he said he was angry at the person who hurt his family, she told him, "It's OK to be angry. God is angry, too." Once Andrew's voice was heard, he was able to let go of his angst & morph back into a child, playing in one of the childrens' classrooms, seemingly carefree once again (after locking us inside the baby gate to "protect us from bad people").
Experiencing theft, then watching my babe's cries go unsoothed, & his words not only go ignored, but smiled at in passing, my thoughts have been paused on the concept of the present & have me pondering how awake we are to our world & the people around us? How many times have I passed someone & smiled at them - or ignored them - while their world's been freshly torn apart?
And what makes children so easy for adults to ignore? What kind of message are we sending the next generation when we can't stop our feet to listen when we are being spoken to? What lesson did my son learn Sunday about society & the sharing of pain? Are we showing our children their voices don't matter? That they're alone in their hurt - even in a church parking lot?
Sunday, I had my van broken into, & whilst reeling from the harsh reality of the brokenness in our city, my eyes were opened to the ever-important need to be present where we are, to really listen to those around us, especially the voices of children, because we never know when they might be swelling with hurt, & truly needing to be heard.