It was a beautiful spring day in Nova Scotia. The grass was turning green, the sky was blue, and birds were singing everywhere.
We were in the picturesque province for a funeral, and a bit of a mini-vacation with family. Being on the go, one night we decided to order pizza from Luigi’s- the yummiest pizza around. We ordered, and my husband and I hopped in the car to pick up our boxes.
As we left the subdivision where my mother-in-law lives, we drove by a cute yellow colonial house that was in the process of being upgraded by her owners. Three mid-teens were outside, standing in a circle to the side of the house. We were almost past them, when a glittering object fell to the ground, not far from them.
It was a knife. A large butcher knife. That fell from the sky.
It took a moment for this to sink in.
These two boys and one girl, probably around 15 years old, appeared to be playing a “dare” game. A game where a dangerous activity is agreed upon by a few or a group, and the challenge is to not flinch or “chicken out” by saying “no” or “stop”. Examples of these types of activities are found all over the internet, and I find them disturbing, so will not elaborate on them here.
We arrived at the pizza parlour early, and while we waited for our order, we debated what we should do. Knock on the door and tell the parents? Call the police? Ignore the situation? We did not know if these kids had ill intent, if they were on drugs or alcohol, or what the state of their minds were.
We decided that if they were still out there when we went back, that we would simply ask them to stop. We hoped they weren’t an angry bunch who would turn on us…
Sure enough, as we approached the yellow house, a knife catching light from the sun clattered to the sidewalk. A teen ran over and picked it up, pulling up his sleeves, sweating. They stood in a circle. He threw the knife. Up high. Very high. The knife came down. Landed with a thudding plunge into the grass. Inches from a bare foot.
We drove up with cautious urgence. Rolled down the window. The knife was in hand to be thrown again. All three looked at us silently.
“Could you please stop throwing that, please? It’s so dangerous!” I pleaded. My husband echoed those thoughts. “Please stop. You guys don’t need to be doing that!”
Then a surprising thing happened. I expected them to laugh, to be angry, to ignore us or swear. Instead, what we heard was the most meek thing ever.
“Okay,” they all said in unison. “Okay”. They looked down, and immediately started walking towards the house. They were quiet.
“You are all too valuable for games like that!” we said.
“Okay,” they said, completely submissive.
The transformation was astounding.
It was like these kids were waiting for someone to say something. Not one of them could bear to break the peer pressure and say no, but it appeared they all wanted to. They welcomed our words, received them in a way rarely seen in teenagers. (Believe me, I know. I have four teens in my house!) The relief was tangible and evident.
In Christianity, turning from your old ways to a new, God-inspired spirituality is considered to be a conversion. New life.
Now, I have no idea about the hearts of these kids or what drove them to engage in such a dangerous activity, but something profound and deep happened that day. I could feel it. I could see it. I could hear it.
It was a conversion, of sorts. A chance of new life, and a stepping away from something destructive.
I do not know how this has affected the kids involved, or if they even think of the incident anymore.
But I know it affected me:
Words are powerful.
They can build or break.
Choose them carefully-
See the difference you can make.
I am so glad I spoke up that day.
***Song lyrics from Colleen Reinders and Grace Moes, "Encourage One Another"