Friday, 10 May 2013 12:23

What’s Your Sign?

Written by  Bob Crittendon
Rate this item
(0 votes)


A set of parents in Florida who had been disappointed in their 13-year-old’s behavior took a unique approach to punishment recently, according to a report on Yahoo!  On a particular Saturday, the teen spent 90 minutes standing at a busy intersection with a handwritten sign describing her sins.  It read: “I’m a self-entitled teenager w/no respect for authority. I’m also super smart, yet I have 3 ‘Ds’ because I DON’T CARE.”


Now, keep in mind that when something unique is demonstrated in such a public manner, there is a good chance that people with cell phones will take pictures and post them online, which did happen, and there were quite a few people that took the family to task for the shame and humiliation.


The mom told a local paper, “I wasn’t even thinking about what the public was going to think...I was thinking about our daughter. It was for her to be in the public and recognize what she had done wrong.”  


In a statement, the parents said, “We spend so much focus on not wanting to hurt a child’s self esteem that we don’t do anything.”  And, “Walk a mile in someone’s shoes...We must undo at home what the world tries to tell her is better.”


I will not comment on the wisdom of the punishment, but there were some indications that the bizarre punishment may have been effective.  I did think about this question, though: what if you were forced to hold a sign that expresses what’s in your heart?   We don’t generally hold physical signs, but the way we behave reflects the messages that are written on our hearts.  This teenager’s behavior was posted for thousands to see, and there are messages that each of us demonstrate through our lives for others to see, as well.


Two young men who were convicted in Steubenville, Ohio for drugging and victimizing a young lady certainly had the wrong messages written on their hearts.  So did their fellow teens who took part in filming the incident and posting the video online.  And, the father of one of the boys stated his own culpability: “Everyone knows I wasn’t there for my son. I feel responsible for his actions. I feel highly responsible for his actions.”


Sportswriter Dan Wetzel, quoted by The Christian Post, noted that there was arrogance: “Arrogance from the defendants. Arrogance from the friends.  Arrogance within the culture...A culture of arrogance created a group mindset of debauchery and disrespect, of misplaced manhood and lost morality.”


The mother of the victim wanted to transmit a different message and hold a “sign” of forgiveness.  The Post quotes her statement to those who brutalized her daughter: 


“It did not matter what school you went to, what city you live in, or what sport you’ve played. Human compassion is not taught by a teacher, a coach or a parent. It is a God-given gift instilled in all of us. You displayed not only a lack of compassion but a lack of any moral code...


“This does not define who my daughter is. She will persevere, grow and move on. I have pity for you both. I hope you fear the Lord, repent for your actions and pray hard for his forgiveness,” she added.


So, the mom has chosen to display forgiveness and desired to write words of healing on the heart of her daughter and those who attacked her.  Noted author Ann Voskamp took the occasion to write words of respect for women on the heart of her son.  In the blog post, “After Steubenville: 25 Things Our Sons Need to Know About Manhood”, she writes:


“...when the prevailing thinking is boys will be boys – girls will be garbage. And that is never the heart of God. That’s what you have to get, Son – Real Manhood knows the heart of God for the daughters of His heart.”


Among the 25 things Voskamp advises for her sons to learn about manhood are: “To stay silent is to let perpetrators perpetuate;” “Unless a man looks to Jesus, a man doesn’t know how to treat a woman;” and “Real Manhood means you take responsibility for your body.”


I now want to return to the teenager who held the sign standing beside a busy street.  The thoughts and intents of her heart were recorded in writing and displayed for the world to see.  If we were to write down what is in our hearts and hold up a sign, what would the message be?  Even though that occurrence is unlikely, we do communicate what’s in our heart by words that we speak and the actions we take.  It is so important that we check our hearts and make sure that we are infusing our hearts with Godly wisdom through His Word.





Last modified on Friday, 10 May 2013 12:37

Related items (by tag)

back to top