Sometimes through a stressful situation, you get a look into someone else’s life and you realize how closely you are connected to them. Last night as I drove home from a meeting, I got a window into a fractured home. A little Honda lay like a turtle on its back in the roadside ditch. Two teens, ages 17 and 15, scrambled up onto the country road as I stopped to help. They were two scared puppies, glad they weren’t hurt. Their thanks to Providence didn’t include the humility of truth.
The older boy seemed more focused on making me complicit in his version of the accident than in rescuing his car. He said, “I hit black ice … wasn’t familiar with the road … was only going 5 mph over the speed limit” (later amended twice). Then he insisted I say nothing about his companion.
I asked what that was about. He said he’d just gotten his license and wasn’t supposed to have passengers. What? Am I his principal? His dad? I told him to call his parents. Although I could hear only his side of the conversation, it revealed a high order of dysfunction within that house. The exchange of blame and denial, yelling, and lies were beyond the bounds of respect. He accepted no responsibility; the black ice caused the accident.
The nearest roadway black ice was probably 50 miles up in the foothills—certainly not on that straight stretch of road. His Honda was in the ditch because he had driven it there. I didn’t need the boy’s excuses but he saw me as an authority figure to convince. I gently told him that he was always responsible for the operation of his car—though it was an accident. He didn’t want to hear it.
I asked for his phone to reassure his parents. What I got was a single mother, almost desperate to handle a son who bullies her to avoid personal responsibility. I saw him as an anxious young man who’ll be in many scrapes unless someone gets hold of his life. Unfortunately, there are many such young men who need the strong presence of a loving, wise father.
The Old Testament has many admonitions to care for the fatherless and the widows. Every child should have both a mother and a father. When that isn’t possible, Scripture reminds us that God defends the cause of the fatherless, the widows, and the aliens (Dt 10:18). Much as he did in the lives of my two brothers and me and our mother …