Mud on the Church Building

About this time, every year, I have to deal with a slew of new high schoolers parking around our church property before school.  We are really close to the high school (where Tommy Frazier went to school - Go Huskers!) and students love parking over here.  

At the beginning of the school year, we always have behavior problems.  Kids will just drop their trash right outside of their car.  Sometimes, it will be sitting there in the morning and lay there all day right next to their cars.  It’s crazy because their is a dumpster within throwing distance from most of the places they park!  They will leave ruts in the ground at times.  This particular picture is from a young man just yesterday who decided to spray mud all over the side of our building.

It drives me crazy.  Here we are letting you park for free and you abuse our property.  It doesn’t just get to me, it bothers our neighbors and church members as well.  All of us share a common notion of “these darn kids have no respect.”

Yesterday, on a particularly muddy afternoon, this young man in a truck sprayed dirt all over.  Well, he got caught by a guy who was doing some work on the church.  I happened to be driving my son home and I got pulled over to confront this situation.  The worker had the kid pull over and come talk to me.  The kid came up and looked like a mixture of frightened as well as defensive.  I introduced myself and asked him his name.  It didn’t seem like he was expecting that.  Then I told him, “You need to clean that up.  If you clean it up you can continue to park here.”

His demeanor instantly changed.  He responded, “yes I will.  Can I clean it tomorrow?  I have to go to work.”  I hesitated and told him that would be fine.  He then went further and said he would bring a power washer and clean it off really well.

I came back by the church for a meeting around 6pm and he was there cleaning the mud off of the side of the church.

Every year this happens, and every year, after a few weeks, I leave a note on the car windows of those students who have decided to park here.  The note reads, “Hey it’s pretty cool that we let you park here for free.  Why don’t you be cool and don’t leave trash on the ground.”  I think I’ve been doing that for 5 or 6 years and it works…every time.  I have never had to leave another note.  That one note lasts for 9 months.

As adults, we are shaping the minds and hearts of teenagers even in tiny little interactions.  My hope is for that young man to view church in a positive way, pass along understanding and forgiveness, and take pride and responsibility in his life and even in little things like where he parks his car.

I want to finish this blog by saying “Hey just don’t be a jerk.”  That’s not good enough.  That’s not even close to good enough.  What we need to do is to exercise forgiveness, mercy, and grace in a way that is shocking.  We need to be so understanding, loving, and caring that people are taken back by our words, actions, and demeanor.

It blows my mind that EVERY single time I go into a grocery store I am worried about being yelled at or confronted by someone.  If I wear a mask, I am worried about being called a “sheep” (which by the way should be a compliment to a Christian), or being accused of giving into fear, or being brainwashed.  If I don’t wear a mask (like in the parking lot) I’m worried about someone yelling at me for not caring about people.

In times like these, it’s not enough to just “not be a jerk.”  I need to do my best to shock people with love, grace, mercy, and understanding.

I hope I helped that young man learn a valuable lesson on responsibility as well as lesson on mercy.
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