When I was in 7th grade, a friend and I witnessed two girls popping pills in the girls’ restroom at school. We were petrified. The girls weren’t just any girls. They were known as, “the tough girls.” We had to quickly decide: a) to ignore it and move on; b) to report it and risk our safety; or, c) to tell another friend hoping they’d tell an adult.
When you witness something wrong or illegal, you’re forced to make difficult choices. Many of us prefer to look the other way. I’m not saying that’s a terrible thing because lots of terrible things happen when you stand up for what is right. Then there are those cases where I may think something is wrong but someone else believes it is totally okay. Right and wrong are often subjective.
For two soon-to-be-thirteen-year-olds, the thought of tattling at school was terrifying. What if they found out who told on them? What if everyone found out we told on them? Would we be labeled “narcs?” Would we lose friends? Wouldn't it be best to pretend it never happened?
I think witnessing the event was especially hard on me because I had siblings struggling with addiction. I also had my birth order in play. I am the youngest of four, so tattling is part of my DNA. <smile>
As for my friend, she was a new Christian. She felt compelled to do the right thing. We had to decide: what was the right thing? We needed to agree because we were in this together.
We told. We went straight to the office, reported the drug use in the girls' bathroom, and were marked tardy for our next class. As young as I was, I knew it was the right thing to do for the sake of the girls popping the pills. Regardless of what anyone else thought, I cared about the tough girls and realized their toughness (and drug use) were probably buffers to real life.
As for my friend, she felt the experience was her first test as a Christian. She knew she had an obligation to do what was righteous; even if it felt scary.
Guess what happened? The two girls figured out who told on them because it turned out my friend and I were the only other girls in the restroom when they were taking the pills. Did the tough girls threaten us? Were we jumped in the hallway?
Both girls thanked us. We chose well. The girls' toughness and drug use were masking deeper issues in their lives. My friend, the new Christian, felt obedient to God. She felt she passed her spiritual test with flying colors.
Do all stories, such as this one, have happy endings? Absolutely not. Not everyone in the world appreciates genuine concern; especially when they see concern as tattling. Most people prefer that we mind our own business. There are times, however, that looking the other way is choosing to ignore a true need and helps create bigger problems.
Choose well. Be brave.