As I sat in the restaurant last night, my goal was twofold: (1) keep the kids quiet and entertained, and (2) eat food that is relatively warm. During the first course (aka, waiting for the food), my five-year-old mini-me was fooling around and said in her silliness, "I'm retarded."
Oh, wow. Talk about a pause. I couldn't even believe it.
From where had she heard this word? This is a child who is relatively sheltered, I admit it. She is homeschooled. We live on some acres in what is considered one of the most conservative areas ever (land of Rep. Eric Cantor). Her Internet usage is heavily monitored, with only daddy pre-approved sites like Starfall.com getting any viewing time. We go to church, ballet, and homeschool group. And Kroger. And the library. She can sing songs about Jesus, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and various Veggie Tales characters.
And then it hit me. It could have been from anywhere. Television. Other kids. Overhearing something at the store or while out and about.
We are not safe. Things creep in from our culture that we do not like.
This isn't a post bemoaning television or culture or whatever.
It's more of a wake-up call. For me, in particular. While I do what I do for the glory of God, I admit that there is some hope that my actions and intentions will bear good fruit (and, yes, I have examples of that).
But we live in a fallen world, where words like "retarded" creep into the lexicon of a five-year-old whose brother once would have been labeled as such without the blink of an eye.
Yet when I said to her these words, she changed. "Sweetie, I know you mean to be funny. But that word is not nice. It means to some people that they are acting like Henry and need extra time to do things But then people use it to make fun of people with disabilities. I know you don't mean it. But please don't use that word again."
Her face went ashen. She was sorry. She didn't want to make fun of Henry. She loves him, totally, unconditionally. But in the moment, she just wanted to be silly, and she said a word she had heard.
Pray, church. Pray for the words we speak and the words in our minds and hearts. Let us truly open ourselves to let the Spirit talk and work through and within us. Amen.