A Mother's Tough Love
She turned in her own son to police. He may hate her for it now, but will he thank his mother down the road?
As parents, we love our children deeply. We’d like to think that we would do anything for them – and generally speaking, moms and dads do a lot. We sacrifice our time, becoming their personal chauffeurs or Uber drivers (whichever analogy you prefer). We sacrifice our sleep, comforting them after a bad dream, and kids certainly put a dent in our savings. (Before I was a mom myself, I once asked my dad why he never bought a flashy sports car. He shot me a look and said, “It’s because I have you and your brother…” Lesson learned!)
This spectrum of sacrifices aside, how many parents really do what it takes to make sure that our kids become the best versions of themselves? Do we have the guts to do something that causes our kids to resent us now, but that they’ll thank us for later?
A single mom of four from St. Louis definitely did, after discovering her 13 year-old was involved in an armed carjacking of a pastor. What did she do? She didn't give him a slap on the wrist or tell him not to do it again. Instead, she turned him into police. And now the minor is being charged with First Degree Robbery, a Class A Felony, and just had his first court hearing.
The victim of this crime, Pastor Mike Coleman from Carondelet Baptist Church, recently joined MOMlitics to share his thoughts on this situation.
Fortunately, the pastor wasn’t physically harmed in the carjacking incident, but the events of that night remain crystal clear. He says, “The first 24, 48 hours were rough, because I’ve never been attacked or approached like that before. As I was getting out of the car, that's when these two young people just literally came running up to me with a gun. And all I heard were tiny voices saying, ‘Give me your keys!’ It didn't match what was going on. I was expecting to hear something much deeper, much more menacing. So at first, it felt like it wasn’t real. But when a gun is in your face, it becomes very, very real. You just do what you're told.”
The next day, police already had a suspect in custody – thanks to the boy’s mother turning him in. Coleman says, “Bless her heart for doing something very bold, very heroic. As far as I'm concerned, she's taking the first step and actually making a good change.” Ultimately, he hopes the court system will make an example of this teen to help him realize the seriousness of his crime.
Coleman explains, “If he wants to come away from this and not have it dog him throughout life, I want him to have that, too. I want to take something very bad and turn it into something very, very good.”
Whether it’s attempting to steal a car or something far more minor, it’s up to parents to help their kids learn from their mistakes. Coleman says the more honest parents can be with their children, the better: “If a parent can admit when they made a mistake, regardless how small it might be, kids will realize that mom and dad are human too, and it’s ok to make mistakes.” And when it comes to forgiving loved ones, “There needs to be some sort of balance, not giving a reward just because someone says I'm sorry.”
Speaking of forgiveness, Coleman has already invited the boy’s family to a service at his church, and feels that perhaps it was more than coincidence that he was the unintended carjacking victim.
He says, “I'm hoping that we can actually sit and talk, and find out what goals this teenager has, as well as his siblings. I look at this as an opportunity. So it might be a blessing that our paths have crossed, even if it doesn't feel like it right now.”
Perhaps Coleman has a soft spot for less traditional paths to success. For nearly two decades, he worked as a custodian at Carondelet Baptist Church before becoming its pastor. He explains, “I accepted the call to go into ministry, and studied all the different doctrines. And after about 14 years of study and still the custodian of the church and assisting the pastor, they decided to ordain me.” Several years later, the church’s pastor of 30 years retired, and church leaders decided to keep Coleman - and to promote him. He adds, “What I'm doing now is just what God's asked me to do, to try to keep our toehold on the neighborhood. It's just been a blessing.”
Unsurprisingly, his sermons after his near-death experience have centered on loving thy enemy and forgiveness. He says, “Christians, and myself in particular, are nowhere near perfect. I make mistakes all the time. But thankfully, by recognizing our faults, we have the opportunity to correct those…transforming our sinful nature into a new nature in Christ.”
Where will the 13 year-old carjacking suspect be ten years from now? Coleman says he wouldn’t be surprised if this became the moment that turned his whole life around: “I think maybe somewhere down the road, we will see the blessings of this, because that's just how good God is.”
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