The Ugly Part

Mental Illness

Mental Illness  I’ve gotten lots of family time.  Three person kickball, hand ball, and Two square with the nephews. (Hey!  You work with what you’ve got.) Shopping and cooking with my sis-in-law.  Hanging with my bro.  Bull dogging seats for his show.  It’s mostly been a great week.

The part that makes me say, “mostly” is the ugly side of my job.  This week I’ve spent big chunks of time working on Child Safety & Protection Policy.  I’ve spent hours reviewing our policy in the light of best practices and standards.  I’ve made charts comparing what this says to what that says.

The thing is, it’s not just theoretical.  It’s practical.  And it’s pretty much ugly.

You can’t talk about the right way to handle reporting or investigation without conjuring scenarios that demand reporting and investigation.  Those scenarios are never good.  They are not the things I want to think about with any regularity, but I must.

I spend a lot of time with a lot of different kids.  In fact, my “kid season” starts very, very soon.  I want to do everything I can to ensure all the kids I work with are in the company of the safest people possible.  We do so much to establish safety in the way kids are transported in automobiles or on their bikes and in so many other venues; we need to do more than that to make sure they’re safe from abuse.

There are a few difficult things with that.  I want to be realistic and practical.  I want to protect kids and those who are around them.  It’s not easy.  Many times I have to descend into the muck and learn how to think like an unsafe person in order to keep the kids in my charge as safe as possible.  It’s the necessary part,  but it’s the ugly part.

What are the ugly parts of your job?

original image by Dez Pain on edited with FotoFlexer

8 responses to “The Ugly Part”

  1. I have some of the same quandaries being a teacher. Although there are laws that seem to be precise, there are many moments when I just want to jump in and take the upper hand.
    But….the ugliest part of my job is having to give standardized tests to my precious students. I spend an entire year telling a kid that they are making progress, that they are doing great. They begin to believe that they could actually learn stuff, and be successful. In their own little world, major changes are going on, and connections are real. THEN….. the almighty test comes, and those very kids that have just begun to feel a bit secure are BOMBED with questions that are insanely worded, and not indicative of what a real learner is. One very sad moment was with a little 7 year old girl, who looked up at me, with tears in her eyes, and said, “I TOLD you I was dumb.” That’s what really ugly in my job.
    God bless you, Sheryl, as you work through your stuff. It’s worth it. Make it strong and real, just like you. I love you.

  2. Watching our Mozambican young people come to Christ and then watching the disconnect that happens between them and their family and friends. Becoming a Christian here means a total life transformation, often families see it, but lack of understanding and because all the family requirements of sacrificing to ancestors, etc.. life transformation is feared rather than respected.

    A young person can be more helpful around the house, more loving, more respectful to parents, but because they refuse to participate in the ancestor rituals, they are often mistreated or kicked out of their homes, at least for a time. To desire to be a pastor or church leader? Well, that’s just another nail in the coffin.

    I pray for these young people that God would give them strength and perseverance to endure, fight the good fight, finish the race.

  3. Mine is similar….. having to keep an eagle eye on my two year old when she is playing with the six and seven year olds at work… because their past is never far away and you never know when they will turn from victim into perpetrator. 🙁

  4. Thanks for responding, ladies. It seems as long as there are dirty, rotten sinners in the world (of which I am a redeemed one), there will always be ugly parts.

    Ginger, my eyes teared up with your story of the 7 year old. How do we find a good way to quantify progress without letting one test determine the excellence of teaching, the progress of the child, and everyone’s well being? There’s a certain 8 year old I’ve been working with this week who is as smart and clever as can be, but for whatever reason, math tests are being bombed. I just want to say, “Haven’t you tested this child enough?!?!?!?!”

    Lynne, what a hard thing to watch–joy overshadowed with rejection. I know an untimely death isn’t out of the question for many who choose Christ over tradition and superstition. What a hard thing to watch and be a part of. May your encouragement be as sincerely welcomed as it is given.

    Nicolette, I know that fatigue of constant vigilance . . . and I don’t have to have it ALL the time. Your statement about victims becoming perpetrators is so true. It’s a bitter cycle. May it be broken over and over again because of Jesus presence with you in your city!

  5. That IS hard. I just finished reading Mary DeMuth’s memoir “Thin Places.” It’s poignant, raw, and yet weaves in healing and hope. Helpful to pass on to anyone going through past abuse.

    Thanks for tackling hard topics to keep kids safe. It needs to be done.

    Jennifer Dougan

  6. Thanks for sharing, Sheryl. We’re working on something similar for youth ministry volunteer guidelines in Spain, and it’s tricky. In addition to thinking like an intentionally unsafe adult, I’m trying to think like an unintentionally unsafe adult (who doesn’t notice her/himself taking small steps from innocent caring behavior to not-so-innocent behavior), like an unsafe teenager (to protect our volunteers as well), and like a Spaniard.

  7. It’s tricky, isn’t it Ben? Thinking like an unsafe person is so important to figuring out what’s going to work and what isn’t. I think it’s probably even harder when you’re working cross-culturally. Thanks for what you’re doing!

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