Serpent-Doves Among Wolves

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I want to start by saying it’s NEVER my intention to stir pots or poke wounds, but I also recognize the inevitability of unintentionally offending someone because I walk in a land full of hurting people who’ve been through horrible experiences. I fear you can’t hear my tone, my compassion, or my aching heart through a computer.

This post is NOT about “should” or “ought to.” This post is one parent of small children assessing how to best teach her children to navigate an ugly world as they grow up.

The purpose of this post isn’t teaching my kids their rights as human beings. I’m talking about teaching them the realities of being human in a broken world.

I am going to try and be clear here, and then move on with the rest of the post with this understanding in mind: A person should be able to get drunk, stroll through a city stark naked, and pass out without being assaulted. A person’s level of vulnerability shouldn’t dictate their safety. Shouldn’t. BUT that is not the reality of the world I live in. People exploit the vulnerabilities of others in both subtle ways and huge soul-crushing incidents every day. Sometimes with intention, sometimes without.

So with all the headlines of late, I’ve been doing some thinking.

Matthew 10:16 comes to mind. “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.”

It’s quite the balancing act. A serpent is wise, has good eyesight, and is quick to learn. The dove is meek, humble, and innocent.

I want to teach my children that there are wolves in the world, and the importance of choosing their company carefully.  God has given them eyes, ears, discernment, and wisdom in order to help them navigate this messy world. Drugs and alcohol make it more difficult to use these wonderful gifts. If what they put in their body leaves them vulnerable, then they are trusting the other judgment-impaired people around them to not abuse that.  Again, I’m not discussing if they should be safe, I want to teach them the value of assessing the reality of their safety level.

And then, delicately, I need to balance teaching them the importance of wise choices while avoiding the illusion that wise choices are a bubble that prevents harm. That isn’t true either. I spent a good deal of my life trying to make “all the right choices” so that I could avoid ever experiencing hurt. Guess what growing up taught me…. Whether choices are wise or impulsive, life gets ugly, people do ugly things, and it’s not my fault. My children aren’t responsible for the terrible and cruel choices of others.

Whether their life choices are wise and well-thought-out, or impulsive and impaired, I am here and I love them. I want them to know I would give my life to make sure that they are never hurt, but I can’t. I am committed to walking through hard circumstances with them for as long as I’m alive. My arms are a safe place, and I will be there for them in any way I can.

Most importantly, I want them to know that the grace and healing of God is sufficient for all the wounds and brokenness of life. They are not defined by their wounds. If the justice system fails them, they still serve a just God. He is not perturbed by the not-pretty parts of our stories. In fact, he longs for us to draw near to him, let them go, and allow him to transform them into something that makes us new.

Thoughts and comments welcome whether you agree with my thoughts or not. I don’t pretend to be any sort of expert, just a parent evaluating how to balance  between raising wise serpents and gentle doves.

Differing perspectives welcomed, respect and kindness required.


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