Sunday, April 17, 2011

Just Plain Angry

I have a bone to pick with certain "ladies." I am not at all pleased. They have robbed my sweet little boy of precious innocence. It was bound to happen eventually, but I am not resigned to accept it without speaking my mind.
At recess one day, a boy on the playground told my son about a funny website address he should check out. The address name was catchy, so my little guy remembered it. For a whole year it sat buried in the recesses of his mind, untouched, until one day it reared its ugly head. It was on a day, in a tiny and terrible moment, when I stepped outside, briefly leaving my son inside and alone with my iPad.
He didn't have permission to get on it, and I hadn't set up the password protection, so two strikes against us. He should have been obedient. I should have been more vigilant. Lessons learned.
Within five minutes after I stepped outside, my boy came to find me on the driveway. He was ashen, his eyes had the "deer in the headlights" look, and I thought he was about to throw up. He looked at me blankly, then his lips quivered, and he started to cry. He stammered out the words, "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry. I didn't know."
Some people dismiss the idea of parents' intuition or spiritual guidance, but it is as real as sight, touch, or any other sense. Instantly I knew everything - exactly what had happened to my son, what he had done, and why he was in such despair.
And was I ever mad.
Not at my son, but at the people who had found pleasure in doing something that would make a young child quake. I was furious that they had unveiled to the world - to my son - things that any respectable person would shun and keep private. What has happened to common decency? Why have boundaries been shattered? Do these people consider for a moment the ramifications of their actions? Do they think of a young child in Idaho who will cry at their pictures, run for help, have disturbing thoughts cross his mind, be unable to focus? When they see a sweet little boy on the street are they thinking about how to destroy his peace? How to hurt him? And not just my son or any other child, but what about the families they ruin, the husbands they destroy, the lives they infect? I know, I know - for the people who go searching out such websites, there is definitely accountability. And although in such cases both parties are at fault, neither's fault is mitigated by the other's participation - they are both 100% at fault. But not my son. The damage done to him was undeserved. And I hold those ladies accountable.
So I stood on the driveway, frozen in time as I held my son and prayed for guidance. He begged me to get the pictures out of his mind. He begged me to forgive him. He begged me to help him feel clean, to find peace.
How? How could I wipe clean the filth they'd shown him?
I couldn't. I don't know that those smutty images will ever go away completely. They'll pop into his mind at the worst times for the rest of his life. Our minds sometimes do that to us, even if we don't want it.
But I could direct him to the one source that he could find comfort, and I could teach him to deal with the disgusting pictures that were haunting him.
When we are exposed, intentionally or not, to things that hurt our spirits, we need to turn to him who can heal us. And my son was hurting. Christ, the Great Physician, can bind up those wounds. He can take us away from the hurt of our own evil acts through repentance, but he can also remove the hurt of other's evil acts through his healing power.
I told my wounded boy that I truly believed he could find peace through praying and by reading the scriptures. Trusting me, he went to his room and prayed. Teaching a child the way to pray is one thing, but turning it over to him to do it on his own is another. Worrying, I watched him walk away, wondering how things would go, praying for the best, but I didn't follow him. I could not offer him more, so I entrusted him to the Lord.
About twenty minutes later, he came and found me, all signs of distress replaced by a smile and light in his eyes. He was at peace as he showed me something he'd found in his scriptures:
"And now, my son, I trust that I shall have great joy in you, because of your steadiness and your faithfulness unto God: for as you have commenced in your youth to look to the Lord your God, even so I hope that you will continue in keeping his commandments; for blessed is he that endureth to the end." (Alma 38:2).
It had spoken to him and he had found strength. I sent a little prayer of thanks heavenward. It was a great teaching moment as we compared and contrasted the despair he had felt in front of wickedness to the true happiness he felt when he aligned his life with goodness.

I wish that had been the end of his problems, but it wasn't. Later that evening, he again lost his smile, lost his peace, lost his innocence as the pictures returned to plague his mind. We took the kids out to eat that night, hoping it would lighten the mood. He's the kind of kid that enjoys food.
But he wouldn't touch his plate. I felt sick to my stomach as I watched my little guy stare miserably at his food, knowing of the turmoil in his head and heart. He was physically ill.
Over-reaction? No, not at all. He is sensitive, though, and had not known such evil existed. Sensitive, yes, but also strong. Strong enough to run from the evil that others might find enticing, strong enough to ask for help, strong enough to realize there is no peace down that road.

I tried giving him suggestions, coping strategies, love, help, distractions. Eventually he went to sleep that night, but he didn't sleep well. Thankfully, the next few days were fine. He was able to find other things to occupy his mind. But about a week later, after we'd put all the kids to bed, he walked into my room where I reading. His eyes were focused on the floor. When he did look up at me, it was with a pleading look for help. The pictures were back in his mind. He didn't even say a word, but nodded when I asked if that was what bothered him.
Again, I held him close, praying for help. Jeff walked in and I knew that I could do nothing but point my child in the right direction. I turned him over to Jeff, requesting a Father's Blessing for our boy.
The blessing brought great comfort and help to our son. He went quietly back to bed and slept soundly. He has not had been disturbed since, but neither has he forgotten. (When he saw me writing this post, he knew instantly what it was, and helped me find the scripture that had helped him.) But he has been strengthened to where the images mean nothing to him - he dumps them out of his mind as one would dump out trash.
That's what it is. Pornography is trash. Filth. Smut. It is full of debilitating and addicting garbage that we cannot let infect us. For those who struggle with it, it can be overcome with the Lord's help. People can be healed, whether they have an addiction problem or are hurt from a loved-one who struggles with it. It may mean having to turn for help over and over again for as long as needed - like my son who kept coming back for help instead of caving beneath the burden.
I have dear friends whose spouses (husbands, in these cases) would not give up the sick and dangerous thrill. The marriages ended in divorce because the addict chose a virtual, vile world instead of the real, wholesome life that had been their marriage. The children cry for the father, the wife for the husband, the mother for the son...
On the other hand, I also have dear friends whose husbands also tripped up (sometimes pretty seriously) yet sought forgiveness, gave up the vice, and were made whole again. Now they are people who, like my son, see the images as revolting deviances of something that should be pure, private, respected. They see women not as objects to be used, abused, possessed, but as real human beings, and as real people - someone's daughter, a sister, a friend, perhaps someone's mother - with a soul and mind so much more precious and important than the body they inhabit. If only the women could see themselves that way, too...

So yes, it made me mad. As mad as I've ever been. How dare they mess with my family, my pure little son, our sheltered, peaceful life? But it also made me thankful for the guidance and help from the Savior. My son was robbed a part of his childhood and will never regain that. What he does have now is the too-early strength of a righteous man, and too-soon sombre realization that all is not well in this world. And while my son found out there is gloom in the presence of evil, he also found there is joy in goodness. Perhaps he - perhaps all of us -can help our world family - our sisters, our brothers - want to behave. There is indeed peace in righteous doing.


  1. Well said Stephie, and I'm so sorry you had to deal with this. We have had similar situations at our house and it has ripped my heart out. However, I know I have been guided as a mother on how to help and have been alerted to lurking dangers. This filth is just so easily found, and on so many devices that we have to be constantly vigilant in protecting our precious family.

  2. I'd be mad too, Steph. As Mamas we want to shelter our babies for as long as possible and it makes us see red when we're thwarted. Grr. But don't lose hope! You're little guy is going to be fine--especially with you guiding him. Perhaps this will be the making of him and the bonding that you all need to make your relationship super strong. I'm related to and married to boys who had similar things happen to them and instead of infecting them, it made them make stronger, righter, better choices. With you guiding him, your guy will find his way. But, blahhhhhh!

  3. nice post, steph! i hate the filth we are bombarded with and feel equally as protective about my nephews! my prayers are with him and you and jeff. keep being strong. thank you for addressing a topic that many avoid to speak openly of. it is a problem, and we all have problems. thank heaven for help beyond our own!

  4. There is a whole world out there to be angry at in righteous indignation. My heart screams "Head for the hills! Keep them safe!" I am not far from doing so. I take heart in Pres Monson saying that there is a way to live in the world but not of the world...I am still figuring that out. Oh, I am grateful for righteous mothers like you whom I can look to for guidance. And a Halelujiah for tender and righteous nephews!!!

  5. This is from a blog post of mine.

    For some more "mature" people the idea of scratching a record is probably horrifying. I remember learning how to avoid scratching a record and protecting the turntable from harm. It will become obvious to all that I am not talking about gouging an LP beyond playability, when I say "I love scratchin' the record".

    Let me explain.

    I had this scratchin' method work for me on several occasions. The first time it REALLY saved my life was after a very "bad mommy" moment. I thought I was being a Good Mommy by taking my children to the free "children's movie" a couple of summers ago. I figured since the movie was for children that I didn't need to read all the reviews and background prior to taking my children to see the movie. I WAS WRONG! About 10 minutes into the movie, my two youngest children had curled up on my lap and were ready to leave. For heaven sakes, I was scared too. Christina insisted she wanted to stay so I took the other kiddos and wandered around Target until the movie was over and the rest of our group was ready to go.

    That very night, while trying to go to sleep, all three of my children had visions running through their heads and they weren't sugar plums. They had terrible images of scary trolls printed on their brains:
    I had to take these horrible creatures and "scratch" it into a sweet dream...

    So, I glitterized the killer troll and all of his friends in pink tutus, tiaras, parasols, and white satin gloves. In our new story the trolls were not trying to kill the three children home alone. Rather, they were thrilled and so very anxious to prance over to the fabulous and oh-so-important...TEA PARTY! Oh, the cookies were going to be marvelous! The little cucumber sandwiches were world famous and delicious. Every troll for miles around was dressed in their festive tutus and tiaras and headed straight to the tea party hosted by the three children!

    Huzzah! What a glorious party they had and there was plenty to eat for everyone.

    This Spiderwick scratch taught me a lot. The more vivid and profound the bad image is, the more vivid and profound the scratch must be. We invented this new story for the hideous trolls in about 40 minutes. We really had to put in a lot of details to properly squash the darkness out of those images. But even now, I can't look at those trolls without picturing them in their tutus, tiaras and glitter wands, prancing to the best tea party ever invented for a sweet dream.

    I have also be blessed to see this technique work with the most hideous images that the world can throw at us. Our mind will not erase the image but we can alter it enough that it is no longer a burden to our spirits.

    Note to self. Avoid garbage images at all costs. Clearing out the trash requires more imagination than this old brain can handle and I am not sure I have enough glitter to go around.

  6. Oh Steph. What a horrid, infuriating, sickening experience. I am so sorry that it happened. But I am very proud of your son for coming to you so quickly. Pornography is the worst thing on earth as far as I am concerned. I think everyone has seen a marriage or family damaged forever by its evil influence and it is a battle that is so hard to fight. I'm so glad your son has a family that understands and can support him, pray for him, and give him blessings as needed.

  7. It also occured to me Steph that you might want to share a version of this with the Ensign/New Era/Friend. People often forget how damaging it is to little people and what we do to help them when it happens too.

  8. Thank you for being brave and writing about something that effects so many people. Your children are so lucky to have a mom who can help guide their sweet spirits around such an ugly thing.

  9. Thanks, everyone. As I've shared your comments, emails and phone calls w/my son it has fortified him and helped turn this into a strengthening experience. Y'all are wonderful.

  10. So, I read this post a while back and then yesterday I opened the Friend Magazine and read a story in there that was very similar to yours- if not exactly a like! Did you submit this? If so, way to go. It was a very sweet story! You are a good mom. I'm sorry your son had to learn that lesson in such an awful way, but you handled it perfectly!