Monday, September 19, 2011

An Unusual Weekend

I had an unusual weekend. Heck, it wasn't just unusual, it was unique. Completely. Ohhhh, and it would take too long to tell about it and I'm not sure I should, so I won't.

Okay, so I will. Sort of. Skipping the details.

I helped take the Boy Scouts on a fifty mile bike ride. (They made it, which is really impressive for twelve and thirteen-year-olds on mountain bikes.) Along the way, we were asked to help in the search for a missing person. And then we found her.

Cool, eh?

Yeah, I left out most of the story.

I'm responsible, at least partly, for the spiritual education of those boys. Two weeks ago, I taught them a lesson in church about showing respect for women and girls. I didn't mince words. I told them the girls they knew at school were more likely than them to deal with eating disorders and depression and that they could have a huge impact for positive or negative on those girls. I even told them girls were more likely to attempt suicide. That wasn't the whole lesson, but it was a big part of it.

On Saturday, the lesson continued. The young woman we found had tried to kill herself. She was injured, but alive and conscious. And I use "we" loosely, because I never saw her and only two of the boys did. The rest of us were half a mile up the road.

A couple of the young men were a little traumatized by the encounter. Had the injury been an accident, it likely would have been easier to process. Yesterday at church, we talked about it with them.

I didn't lead the discussion. (I don't think anyone in that group, boys or adults, knows my history in that regard. This blog is available for anyone to read, but I don't regularly send people here.) It was led by the man in our group who found the woman and talked with her until the ambulance arrived. And he did a good job. He emphasized the fact that no matter how worthless you feel, people still love and care about you.

The adult leader of the young women's group also joined us. Her day job is helping girls who have eating disorders and depression. She told them again just how big an impact they can have on their peers. She's never experienced depression herself, but she gave an excellent description of what it's like.

I told the boys that depression is a disease that people can recover from. I said the woman we'd helped could go on to live a long, happy life.

And if I could, I'd say the same thing to her.

So it was kind of an amazing, emotional weekend for me. I don't know what the scouts got out of it and I probably never will. I can't give them experiences like this on purpose or know what they'll mean in the long run. I'm only partly responsible for their education.

7 comments:

  1. I"m all teary - what an amazing experience.

    It's like we don't wish bad things to happen to people, but they can have so much impact on us when they do.

    A young guy in our ward, almost 19, got in an accident while skateboarding just over a week ago. He's our home-teacher, helped with our daughters baptism and is just awesome without all the pretension that sometimes comes with awesomeness.

    It gave our family a lot to pray for, and our ward a lot to pray for. After being in a coma for three days, he came to church yesterday, only a week and a half after his accident.

    I know our stories are VERY different, but I'm always amazed at the things that impact us, how they impact us, and how one person's accident (or in your case on-purpose) can change people around them for the better.

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  2. So much of the problem is girls being taught that their worth is dependent on men, how they respond to men, when they marry, when they have children, how to be careful not to usurp a man's/husband's authority (gag). Men men men. Of course some of this isn't verbally taught to women, but some of it is. And I mean in religious circles. I don't know how this relates to your post or your actions; it doesn't really. But I don't believe men can relieve the problem, per se. It's almost as if they should stay out of it.

    Then again, some women are positively born with the desire to make a man happy, so then there's that to deal with too. It's a complex thing. I'm more of the inclination to re-educate the women rather than re-educate the men. Nip the problem in the bud, so to speak.

    This from someone who was raised a fundie. Being taught in church that men are inherently more awesome than you has its adverse effects.

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  3. It's been an interesting thing to see up close and (very) personally the difference between men and women, and how they interpret and handle things. So much of what we as guys just think is innocent fun is taken so seriously by girls. It's a darn shame that only about one in twenty thousand teenage boys actually realize that. A few friendly words at the right time can make the difference between a happy life and a tear-filled funeral (speaking from personal experience here).

    Good job on that lesson. Nice to know you're making good on the responsibilities of your calling.

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  4. Wow. I'm glad to hear the rest of the story. I don't believe in coincidence - the boys and the other leader were more prepared because of your lesson. Oh... another wow. I just read Jaimie's post. I am so glad I was not raised that way! My mother never, ever "needed" a man - she just loved one! My father, on the other hand, always treated his daughters with the same (maybe more?) respect as his sons - how lucky we are!

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  5. Those boys may not ever know the true impact of what they did that day, not just for the woman who is being offered a second chance at life, healing, and happiness, but for her loved ones who would have been left behind to pick up the pieces. My step-dad committed suicide 4 years ago next month, and there are always the what-ifs: What if we'd done or said something different that would have resulted in a better outcome.

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  6. Wow, Ben. That's a pretty intense weekend. I'm glad you encourage the young men in your ward to treat the girls with respect. We teach the young women the same;) Thanks for sharing.

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  7. An unusual weekend, indeed. But on the whole, an amazing, emotional one, like you said. Thanks for sharing this, Ben. It's wonderful when we can use the experience we gained from our trials to bless the lives of others.

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