"Why Are You so Angry?"
I will never forget the anger in those eyes, his nostrils flaring, and his chest heaving up and down as I turned young Quintavius to face me - rather than letting him continue in his approach to attack the third grade girl that cut in front of him for a sip at the water fountain. I had seen it happen, and I saw the mission he set about doing and the serious intent on his face after he turned and realized the girl cut in front of him while he wasn't paying attention. I seriously believe that had I not intervened when I did, the boy would have pummeled the little girl on the ground.
The young black boy stared me down, so mad that I had the audacity to interrupt his mission in retribution.
With a hand gently touching his shoulder, I told him, "Quintavius, just what do you think you're about to do? You know there's no fighting in my class."
His chest heaved some more, and I even saw a tear start to flow out of his left eye.
"Man - she cut in front of me, Coach! You know I can't let her get away with that!" he declared to me as he stared away for a moment and eyed the girl as she walked back to her spot on her 'running team'.
I remember being taken aback by the amount of rage this young man seemed to hold inside, and how angry he had gotten at such a minor incident. I often didn't assume too much about children and their backgrounds, but this time I slipped up.
"Why are you so angry? Do you think your dad would want you to be this angry at girl, for just cutting in front of you?" I made the mistake of asking. And that's when the faucet opened up.
Young Quintavius then shouted at me, "Man - what you mean, 'my dad'? I don't have no 'dad' Coach! Man, get away from me...you don't know me!"
And I knew from then on I faced an uphill battle. Quintavius was right...I didn't know him. And I had no idea what he was going through. I had no idea what it was like to never be taught how to control anger - and yes, I grew up knowing how to get angry! But I also had a father who, despite having a temper himself, still taught me the importance of trying to tame it. Was my father the perfect example? No, but apparently it was more than Quintavius got. And the only perfect example we men have is Jesus.
But that day I discovered how young men without a father can struggle with issues like anger. And Quintavius was just the beginning. Unfortunately I didn't last at that school. The challenge of working with so many kids with broken homes and fatherless houses got to be too much for me, and I didn't feel like I was on the right battlefield to combat the situation. Perhaps that is how I got to law enforcement? It sure did reinforce my yearning to put right some of the things broken in this world.
Now let's unpack the issue with Quintavius. How much does he represent the society around us? Think about it...think of all the fatherless children out there - the fatherless young men who are entering an age where they want to become men, but only have the media and the streets to show them how to be that man. I joined a new study for Christian men at our church this morning, with the whole message of manhood being brought to us by an inner city pastor by the name of Eric Mason...and his message hit home with me. He featured a man named Octavius in the session, and Octavius spoke about growing up without a father. Listening to Octavius speak about what it was like, trying to figure out how to be a man without a father - gave me a different perspective...and that's when I remembered Quintavius.
I work in law enforcement. I am a passionate man, and I have strong emotions when it comes to seeing how law enforcement is portrayed by the media, and how the bad apples in law enforcement have made people so angry. But knowing how the statistics in prisons reflect statistics of single parent families and young men without fathers - is it a wonder that there is so much anger. And here comes Johnny Law to tell this young man on the street or that young man what to do, and on and on it goes. I wanted to share this because I want people to know that I do have some understanding of what goes on out there...but I am a broken and flawed image of God just like the rest of us. I know I am emotionally charged, and even angry myself sometimes when I see some of the chaos out there in society. But there is one PERFECT Father out there for all of us. Although God blessed me with a father who was always there for me, and did his best no matter what to teach me how to be a man...he wasn't perfect. But the God of the Bible, and ironically His Son Jesus Christ, are right there for all of us to see.
So the next time you are stewing about something...the next time you see something like people stomping on the American flag or attacking a culture that you identify with so easily...ask yourself the same question I asked Quintavius. I need to ask myself that same question sometimes - Why are you so angry...
When the picture of the perfect father, the perfect man - is right there in the Bible for all of us to see?