The small boy was different from when I had seen him several months before. His mother and I were eating pizza with him after working that day. He had been at the work site and had been active, but obedient.
“Adrian, I see that you are growing up. You are more mature than when I last saw you,” I said. He responded by standing up and showing me his muscles.
“Yeah, my cousin and I are getting big now.” (He is four years old.)
“That isn’t what I meant. You used to be a little wild and out of hand, like a baby. You’ve matured into a nice young man. What happened?” I pursued the subject although I thought I knew the answer already.
“Jon happened,” said his mother. She had been with Jon for about a year now and was very happy. Jon was strict, but loving with the boy.
“Oh, I don’t think that was all Jon. I think Adrian had a lot to do with it, too.” I smiled at the boy. His face beamed with delight. He liked being noticed and praised. I could see positive character traits forming on his countenance and his expressions.
Jon came into their lives when they were struggling. He is a strong, gregarious man with an easy laugh and good work ethic. He accepted her, with her troubles, and her little boy that had some pretty serious problems with discipline. She had been defensive, protecting her boy from further upheaval. Jon explained to her how he was raised.
“My parents told me one time, and I had better do it. If they told me to go clean my room it meant right then, not that night, or if I wanted to. But I got rewarded. That was usually at hair cutting day. We would go get a hair cut, go set down and have an ice cream or hamburger, then we would go to the store and buy me a toy.”
“I’m strict because I want to raise strong men. Young men that can go out in life and make a success,” he continued.
She came to realize this was good for her little boy, and learned to trust him. But not without an occasional fight to make sure he understood she wasn’t going to be passive about any possible mistreatment.
There are so many broken homes now and little children who have lost their sense of security. Without the proper boundaries, they act out and cause a great deal of frustration for the adults they are around. In fact, they aren’t very lovable. The parent, usually the mother, overcompensates for the child’s perceived loss by pampering them. And that can be a form of neglect and abuse if it prevents them from developing normally.
But God sees them as His precious children. I stand amazed and so grateful at the many times I have seen “divine appointments” or circumstances change, bringing good things into their lives. Just the right person gets involved, and the children start becoming who they were created to be.
I saw it in Adrian’s face. A shadow of the man he will become. A self-confident man like Jon, a righteous man like his heavenly father.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)