Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday Memories - Bad Agency, Bad Consequences.

Several years ago I tended children. One cute, three-year-old boy, Austin, had fine blonde hair, wore Wrangler jeans with a belt and buckle, a western button-up shirt, and often boots.  He had a stocky build and wanted to be included in everything.

One day Austin would not stay out of trouble.  He was uncharacteristically irritable.  He jumped in the mud puddles in his nice clothes right after he promised he wouldn't.  He teased whoever came near him.  All morning he did one naughty thing after another, until finally he chucked rocks at the kids. I brought him inside, sat him down on the bench under the open dining room window, and told him he'd have to sit there away from the other kids until he figured out how to be nice.

I continued to peel potatoes for supper at the kitchen sink while the rest of the kids played outside. Balls bounced and they shouted as they made baskets.  The girls laughed as they chased each other and built forts in the trees.  And there Austin sat on the bench all. by. himself. listening to them - sheer hell for a little boy that begged to be included in everything.  

Soon Austin mumbled to himself as he kicked his feet back and forth against the bench and looked at the floor, "Bad agency; bad consequences. Good agency; good consequences.” 

Knowing that his mother had been trying to teach him about making good choices and using "agency" (ability to choose and act) positively, I listened closer to him.  I was more than a little surprised, for not only did he use the word "agency," he was using it correctly.  He said, “Bad agency: got in the mud, fought with Sarah, threw rocks at Abe. Bad Agency.  Bad agency; bad consequences. Now I’ve got to sit on the bench: bad consequence. Bad agency, bad consequence.”

Austin pretty much summed up a mystery of life with his quote, "Good agency, good consequence.  Bad agency, bad consequence."  Knowing we're accountable is a game changer.  Without it we have little - we make excuses for poor behavior or performance, rationalize wrongdoing, and believe that truth is relative and we're an exception to the rule.  But, when we're accountable and we know it and are held to it, behaviors, beliefs, and ideas change for the good. 

Christendom celebrates this week as Holy Week.  On Palm Sunday Christ entered Jerusalem for the last time.  The next day He went to the temple and cleared it of the moneychangers - those who were desecrating His Father's house.  It was as if He was saying, "You can spite me, scourge me, spit on me, but don't you dare mock my Father."  He held them accountable for their behavior. 

I've wondered what I would do each day of my last week on earth.  Little wonder what Christ did.  It makes perfect sense that He spent His last week correcting and teaching the people so that they could change their behaviors, beliefs and ideas - their lives - so that they could inherit eternal life.  He came to save each one of us from ourselves and a fallen world.  He came to make sure that we understood that bad agency equals bad consequences and good agency equals good consequences.


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