My oldest daughter is an extreme extrovert. She never meets a stranger. She believes the new friends that she just played with at the McDonalds’ Playground are of the same relationship importance as those she sees every day at school.
This is both wonderful and terrifying.
We have talked with her about ‘stranger danger’. We want her to be herself and make those people around her feel special. However we to teach a healthy amount of fear. Not every person that talks to you as the best of intentions.
One day we were out at a restaurant. Jen had been talking with her about ‘bad guys’. She was thinking this over in her head and how to know if someone is bad.
She starts talking to a stranger. In the middle of the conversation she stops and turns to me and says “Daddy are these bad guys?”.
I looked at them and they looked at me.
I had no idea how to answer this question. “no, probably not sweetie.” Let’s leave quickly just in case!
I have thought of that experience many times. Unfortunately we can never really tell who the bad guys are. Certainly they rare look like guys in white vans with no windows.
We can’t tell who the people are that are going to hurt us even as adults. We can be smart, protect our hearts, and stay out of certain situations. However we need to live and love knowing that some people will take advantage of that. Be wise, but let the Lord deal with them. Don’t let a few bad experiences hurt your ability to reach out and care for others.