Sunday, October 18, 2009

Another Hoax

Last Thursday afternoon I was leaving my birthday lunch at Pappasito's with all my co-workers when everyone stopped, pointed at a TV over the bar area and gasped. It showed a big silver balloon flying through the air and at the bottom of the screen it said that a little boy was inside. I was immediately traumatized by the thought that we were watching the last moments of a child's life on national television. It was horrible to think that it would probably end violently as he fell to his death or crashed into something. As a mother of a little boy, I wanted to throw up. I was so disturbed that I rushed out of the restaurant because I couldn't bear to watch it. I even forgot Annabeth, who was being held by my friend Michelle. Now, to find out that the kid's parents were allegedly lying and even making their children lie to the whole nation is infuriating. What a twisted thing to do. I'm obviously relieved that the child wasn't ever in physical danger, but now he lives with the knowledge that his parents are liars and frauds.

I usually tend to err on the side of compassion when people get into trouble. I have sinned so much in my life. How could I not have mercy? But emotionally traumatizing others for no reason? I struggle to have patience for that.

Once in college I met a girl my age who was claiming to have terminal cancer. She came down during the invitation time at Breakaway with her best friend, who was sobbing with grief. It was so sad. I was sucked into her lie for several weeks before a mutual friend broke the news to me that this girl was making it all up - with a shaved head and all! I was appalled by her accusation, but it turned out to be true. The thing that made me most angry was the image I had of her best friend's grief. What kind of person does that to their friend? Seriously.

Then of course there was the fake holocaust survivor who was exposed as a fraud late in the summer. I would not be allowed to write everything I'd like to say about what she did and how she eagerly invited us into her deception, but I'll tell you what sickened me the most. When I googled her name, I found that she had spoken to some middle school students in the past and shared her stories with them. They were even allowed to ask her questions. God only knows what kind of traumatizing things she told these children and what joy it probably gave her to see the tears in their eyes and their faces turn green - to have power over their thoughts and emotions. That disgusts me.

There is an overwhelming amount of traumatizing information in this world. Thank God I am not privy to all of it or I'd lose heart and die. The Lord created me with a compassionate heart, which is both a blessing and a curse. It can be hard to feel so much. There are times when I get overloaded with sadness for other people and I can't pick myself up. Sometimes I'd like to trade it in and be a little harder. It would be easier.

All that to say, I am willing to weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn. I usually give people the benefit of the doubt. I generally love mercy. But I have no room, no compassion, no patience for people who seek attention for themselves by emotionally manipulating innocent people with their fake, traumatizing stories. Let me save my grief and compassion for those who truly do not know where their children are, who are truly suffering with cancer, and who have truly looked evil in the face and lived to tell about it.

52 comments:

HisTreasuredPossession said...

amen.

I tend to be a bit more hard, but still feel the same way about people manipulating others for their selfish purposes. digusting.

well said, Amanda.

Kodi said...

I agree with you that this is very, very disturbing. I guess the only thought that comes to my mind is that in order to lie and take advantage of people like this they must have some very serious psychological or at the very least serious moral issues. Thank Jesus that my parents raised me to know right from wrong, that lying is a sin etcetera etcetera. I suppose if these folks are able to cook up some plan like this they have bigger problems than I have ever or will ever have.

Lisa said...

I could not have said it better. I was just talking with my Sunday School students this morning about the parents of that little boy and the whole sickening situation.

I believe God also gave me a compassionate heart, and as you said, that can be a blessing and a curse, but He also gave me a discerning heart. I don't believe for one moment that He expects us to tolerate fraudulent behaviors like the ones you described. When there is so much genuine suffering in the world, it is disheartening to think there are those whose primary objective is to deceive. I try so hard to pray for people like that, so obviously screaming for attention, but like you, I simply can't digest it, much less swallow it, especially when innocent people (children, family members) are unwittingly involved and affected. So sad.

Bourg Family said...

Amen! I seriously hope these people did not make up this horrible story just for the media attention.

Mary said...

Amen. Makes you want to spank the parents!

Crystal said...

That is awful... all of those hoax stories. I'm now, though, with the mindset that all I can do is try to empathize and have compassion for others. If they've deceived me, fine. Thank goodness for them, I'm not the ultimate Judge! Btw- I love reading your posts, especially about your kiddos. I don't comment much, but I get lots of entertainment from you at midnight when the house is finally quiet enough for me to catch up on all of my blogs! :) Have a great week!

lavonda said...

AMEN!

Terri said...

It is sooooo sad how hungry people are for publicity. They are looking for significance they will never find, except when they finally run into the arms of Jesus. The lack of morality in the world is truly scary. I pray that my kids are learning to be salt and light. Blessings.

Kristie said...

I had a friend (whose dad was a pastor) who pulled one of these long, drawn-out, drama-filled FALSE scenarios over on us for about 3 months. It was sickening when we learned the truth, and I still don't understand why she did it. I think that experience has made me a bit more skeptical about these situations. Lord, please help me have both a soft heart and a wise mind at the same time!

CAROL LIVIN FOR GOD said...

Amen Sister it could have not been said better. There is so many people out there looking for attention in all the wrong places and when they do get the attention it is only temporary.
They need Jesus! I am with you I have a tender heart to so it can be a blessing and a curse. I love people and like to help people that need it. Thank you Amanda you are the best Love you here in seistaville. Love Carol

Longmeadow Mama said...

I've had a hard time these last couple days putting my thoughts together about all this. It's disturbed me to the point I can't think straight. You said it so perfectly, Amanda! Thanks for putting my feelings into words for me! :)

Kelli said...

I agree.However I have to think that there must be a reason for feeling the need for sympathy and attention.There must be some serious hurt deep down beneath that broken broken heart.They must be living with guilt..surely!!!Guilt is also a hard thing to live with.I have a hard time feeling compassion for these people as well.I always wonder though...were they deprived of love or feeling cared for so much that they will do anything to feel this way?I can't help but think lying is an addiction just as any drug.One lie always leads to other lies.Lying is a sin regardless of how small or how big.Were these peoples intentions to hurt people or did one small like spin out of control?Where is the hurt coming from?I knew someone like this.Every time someone had a crises she had one bigger.I finally sat down and talked to her and she cried and cried telling me that she's never been happy with who she is or who she has become.It's hard to help these people because they seldom will be honest and tell you what they are really struggling with.I notice that the REAL things that they deal with never ever come to the surface..they cover them up by other bigger problems and receive they love and compassion all of need by those lies people believe.

3girlsmom said...

If my husband wouldn't look at me like I had lost every bit of sense the Dear Lord gave me, I would stand up right here in my den and applaud.

BRING IT, GIRL.

This annoys me to NO END - the manipulation of people's emotions, especially. There's no place for that.

I, too, have a compassionate heart. But after being burned several times, I can tell that some of that compassion is turning to cynicism and doubt. I pray that compassion still be there, but a guarded, discerning compassion. I pray for wisdom and a caring, but HARD TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF heart.

Well said.

lori said...

May I re post your post on my blog.... I won't do that BUT well Said Amanda. I cried for that boy thinking of my own son...
I am glad he is safe but dang WHAT ARE PEOPLE THINKING..

Jennifer said...

Well said, my friend. Well said.

Love,
Jennifer

Cheri-Beri said...

I agree with everything you said. And to victimize your children like that? I'll never understand.

As the wife of a police officer, I also saw this in another light. All the law enforcement, military and fire department attention this stunt consumed put other innocent people at risk. All the resources were being used in one direction and I'm SURE the rest of the area was running on bare bones manning at the best. So while a very self centered couple was gulping up all the public attention, innocent people in real tragedies at the same time might have had to be overlooked.

It's just sickening no matter how you look at it.

lil' mama said...

Thank you. Amen. Well said. And God Bless!! I'm so sick of hearing about this story too. yuck!

creative gal said...

Amen!

Yankee Mama said...

Seriously! Why would you do that. All I could picture was that little boy falling out of the sky plummeting to his death. Where is the fear of the Lord?

Alana said...

It is so sad to see what some people will do for attention. It's even worse to think that there are actually people out there who would involve their children in their sickness. The right thing to do is to pray for those people, but I find that so hard to do...as you said...I have sinned so much in my life so who am I to judge, but it is just so hard to forgive things like that.

JennaG said...

The story of the man who wrote "Healer" is also very hard to take. We sang that at Memphis Living Proof--and I remember thinking how God even used a song written in deception to be so powerful for people. I can't help but think of his hoax, though, every time I sing it.

Bobbie said...

Well said, Amanda! Thank you for voicing what so many of us feel. My heart breaks for the little guys involved in this story. I find that I'm getting more skeptical with situations like this until all is said and done with investigations.

It's amazing to me what some people will do to get attention or even to make a buck and at the expense of their children.

Wish I could hug my kiddos tonight!

Amber Cessac said...

Amen and amen. If there's one silver lining, it's a glimmer of hope in the rest of our society. The way people jumped to prayer and how big the story became. At least the majority of the rest of the nation was concerned and distraught for them. That speaks volumes. But this is so sad and at least it looks like the authorities are really cracking down on them. I read that CPS was even investigating the safety and well-being of the children. We should definitely be praying for them.

jaxonsmommy said...

So very sad. I could not get over the fact that they were making their children lie! And that poor little boy who was physically ill when asked to answer specific questions about the incident. It broke my heart.

Lauren @ When Happiness Finds You said...

Okay. How naive am I? I had no idea that people "faked" things like cancer when they are in college.

I live in Colorado, and I had no idea about the "balloon boy" until it was all over. It was soooo not real. Not one bit. The news lead with the story, but only gave it 2 minutes.

Taylor said...

Amen sister!!!

Morgan said...

I feel so deprived.I am living with NO TV and very little internet.Radio only in the car. You would think I'm on a foreign mission trip...nope,just moved to the middle of nowhere. Anyway,I hadn't heard of this story until reading your post.So I googled it.Having little internet connection I couldn't watch any of the news clips.Ha!I could not believe any of it.WHY on EARTH would someone do this?WHY WHY WHY would they involve their child?I wonder if they realize how many people they have hurt.I suppose they have lots of broken relationships that may never be repaired.I have a soft heart and I love people but, after being deceived horribly I tend to question every tragedy I hear about.I went to church with a girl who also claimed to have cancer.At first we all felt so much love and heart ache for her.I can't tell you how many times I comforted her,prayed with her and cried for her. We found out we couldn't believe anything she said.I look back now and think how I(or anybody else for that matter) never confronted her even though we all knew she was lying.I didn't accept the sin but,I sure didn't disciple her.I was too angry.I can't even fathom why someone would TRY and pull things like this.

Emily said...

One thing I have thought about is the fact that this hoax came to light so quickly in large part because the boy "slipped up" on live television when asked why he didn't come down when he heard people calling his name... He answered the question honestly- something about his dad said this was for the show... Once he said that, the story started unraveling quickly. When his 6 year old boy was asked the following morning (again on live TV) what he meant the night before when he said it was for the show- he vomited 2 times (on 2 separate morning shows)- immediately. The question was asked and he started throwing up. What kind of stress is this poor boy under? His parents are facing charges for this crime, and to a 6 year old, he may feel like this is all his fault... This story is sad on so many levels. We live in such a broken world.

Marc and Charity said...

Well said. I too wish I could pass on this compassion I feel for people at times, I cry too easily and get sucked into other's lives so quick- there's got to be a balance for me, and I'm still learning.

Terrie and Carley said...

Well said girl friend.

I struggle with mercy as it is. (When I take those spiritual gift test, I score really low in the mercy section.)

When I see and here news like the ones that you wrote about, it does something to my heart even more. I have to constantly ask the Lord to give me discernment what what is real and what isn't it so I don't develop such a hard heart that I lack compassion for the real tragedies in the world.

Annie said...

Oh, Amen! I totally know how you feel, Amanda. Being gifted a compassionate heart as well, I tend to take on everyone's problems for my own and have a burden to help others in need. In today's society it's hard to trust anyone and it's just sick that we have to guard ourselves so much and question people's motives and stories the way we do. I don't understand or can even comprehend a side so dark on a person that allows them to target another in such a using, deceitful way.
Last year right after Thanksgiving, a woman came into our church and during our worship service, went up to the pulpit to address the congregation. All she asked for were prayers (she did not come out and ASK for money, but she did say that her family was trusting God to provide for them on a trip to Memphis for her daughter's kidney transplant. She went into a whole elaborate story about her daughter having cancer, needing a transplant and the Delta Angel flights being booked...she gave us the name of the hospital she was going to be at, the "church" in atlanta that was going to put them up over night, and even tearfully asked us to pray for the family of the child who was on life support that would be taken off and who's organs would be donated, a kidney of which would go to her daughter. She even went as far as hodling her daughter, and asking her to tell the church was she was getting...(the little girl, leaned down into the microphone and said, "a new kidney!"...) As we prayed over her family and for the "family" of the donor, there was not a dry eye in our church. As she came down from the pulpit and made her way to the door, I was amazed at all the people who followed her to give her money to help on their journey. I just felt God's love so strong that day as the church poured it out on her. One lady went as far as having them follow her to the bank so she could get cash from the ATM to give them--- another family offered their car and another offered to drive them in his car...As we left church that day, I was still in awe of how generous God's people had been and I was just so moved by it. We live in a small town, and of course at Sunday lunch, as church members started filling the restaurants and visiting with members of other congregations, we learned that she had been to several other churches in the community that day, as well as churches in our neighboring communities the previous week. Of course red flags start flying and later in the week, we found out that it was indeed a hoax. I was heartbroken to see how she had taken advantage of all of us and preyed on our emotions. As a mother who has lost a child to sit and think of the mother who's child was on life support and to also think of the mother who was being faced with "illness and the prospect of loosing her child" made me want to give them anything and everything we had to give--- the worst part of the whole story is not that she took advantage of so many, but that she used A CHILD to do it and had that poor baby girl believing that she was sick and needed a kidney transplant. I do not understand such sickness. I was sick over the whole deal, just sick. I couldn't believe we'd fallen for it. I questioned whether or not we should have done anything or should help others and struggled with who do you trust and when do you trust them??? I had believed it was God's love that we were showing this woman that day, but then even questioned that... maybe if we'd been still and listened he would have led us not to do anything... but I just cant see that... I still have to believe that we DID show her God's love. She was a person in need and through His love, we gave. Whatever she did or didn't do is on her, but we did what we thought He would have us do. I just pray for discernment so that our hearts dont become hard after being so battered and bruised and when someone who really needs help comes along and we don't help...

Jen said...

I couldn't agree with this more. I was audibly praying while i watched the footage and was relieved when he was not found inside. I was hoping he had just been hiding because he was a bit scared. But I was horrified to know that parents planned this.

Our culture is so obsessed with fame and fortune that they are willing to do anything, even when it comes to destroying family.

Thanks for saying what we have all been thinking.

Tara G. said...

Come, Lord Jesus, come!

Sister Lynn said...

Dear Amanda,

Rejoice and be glad. The Lord has taken your heart of stone and given you a heart of flesh instead. You are blessed that you can weep with those who weep.

The only way I can comprehend these people that prey on other's emotions is that they are terribly wounded themselves. They need compassion and they seek it through horribly means instead of seeking the One who IS Compassion.
Sigh... one day we will all know Him.

Hope you have a wonderful week.
blessings, Sister Lynn

ThirtysomethingMom said...

AMEN and AMEN!!!
You said it so well!

Have a blessed day!
Mary

Colorado said...

Sweetie, your post sounds painfully self-righteous. :( Jesus said, "Go and sin no more." He did not say, "I have no compassion for you because your adulterous story is not up to par with my story-telling standards." He said "Neither do I condemn you!" When he caught the woman at the well in a lie, he didn't refuse to speak to her and he didn't use her as the subject of a story about how he would have no empathy for liars. He saw her heart and told her about Living Water.

Jesus saw the heart. No sin is too big for Jesus. No sham too ugly. He refused to send even liars away. Instead he accepted them, told them Truth, and protected them from those who would stone them.

Oh, that we might do the same!

I love you, Amanda.

Lauren Kelly said...

Seriously, I just wonder what is going through someone's mind when they do something like this!!!!!

Gayle @ thewestiecrew said...

I AM SO RIGHT THERE WITH YOU ON THIS!!

I am a burden bearer to the extreme when it comes to the sufferings of others, and when I find out that I've been duped it makes me mad.

I've learned to tap into my God given discernment over the years a little more though, for that very reason. If I ever get a check in my Spirit over a situation now, I usually try to back off (sadly, the internet is a GREAT place to hone those skills, but I digress).

I think the hardest thing about this particular situation though, is that the poor child was so traumatized by his parents that he became physically ill on 2 different morning shows. There is no telling what they said to him (and his brothers) about the consequences of not keeping the lie. Now is he going to harbor guilt for his parents JAIL time?

Wicked, twisted and SICK. His name is Falcon, by the way, so that we can pray for the poor little guy.

Amanda said...

Colorado, I am so thankful that God's mercy and patience far outlast man's. I do pray that He will make me more like Himself. Thank you for the gentle correction.

Mommy Dot Com said...

I'm a softy, and doing prison ministry I have been exposed to a lot of manipulation. It is survival instinct for a lot of offenders. I've noticed it when I do street ministry as well or work with impoverished children. They are so hungry for attention, compassion, comfort that they'll do anything to say look my way.

If it is so common in destitute areas then I'm sure it's common on the streets of America but some dress it up a lot better than others.

When I saw that this may be hoax I prayed that it wasn't. I didn't want to know that people would do that to their children. My heart couldn't take it. Then I remembered everything else I have seen and realized that this gross need, this very unbalanced need for attention, is part of the sin nature. Part that can get ugly when let loose.

Leslie Lauren said...

Amen, Amanda.

I'm slowly conditioning myself to never take news stories at face value until at least a week or two have gone by. When stories like the balloon boy come out, it's best to sit back and let the authorities handle it until we are able to hear the details straight from them. I can't tell you how much grief we Central Floridians went through over a little girl who went "missing" last year. Her name was Caylee and the entire nation was rocked when all of the stories unfolded about how her mother and grandparents were involved in the whole thing (she was found in a garbage bag less than a mile from their home six months later). I always think on John 8:32 when stories like these unfold. It may take months, years, or even decades before the Truth comes out, but it will eventually come.

Beth talked to us about deception at Deeper Still, and how we need to start learning how to decipher when we are being lied to. All I can say is that I've learned the hard way to be patient when news gets reported. Sit back and wait, and the Truth will eventually set us all free.

Allison Talamantez said...

great post. I agree with you whole heartedly.

Moose Mama said...

Amen.

My youngest daughter and I are blessed and cursed with tender hearts....Yes, sometimes it would just be easier to be harder but God made us this way for a reason. It breaks this heart to see people hurting others (especially children) because of what??? Fame. Money. Power. Control. Ratings on a TV show. God forgive us.

Melana

Kelly @ Love Well said...

Surely, we are all sinners.

But emotionally manipulating someone is a cruelty indeed.

This is a well-said post, Amanda. I didn't think it sounded self-righteous -- more just angry at sin.

Fran said...

Amen and amen. I'm stunned at the lengths people will go to today. I think I'm realizing more and more every day just how self-centered we truly are or can become.

So thankful for my Jesus because I could easily be sucked into that mess I'm sure.

Well said, Amanda!
Hugs,
Fran

Heather said...

I agree with you 100%. I can't believe somebody lied about having cancer. What is wrong with someone to stoop that low, to basically not have a heart or care about the fact that others really suffer from it. This story disgusted me cause we were talking about this child was Emma's age and we were wondering what Emma would do and it made my stomach turn. I really hope they file charges.

Teri~Facedown said...

I agree with you Amanda, that was just disgusting and wrong!

Nesha said...

Well said! I too have a big compassionate heart and I agree it can be both, a blessing and/or a curse. All we want to do is share His love and grace!

To actually use your own children to lie and manipulate others, that makes me want to throw up.

It is sad to think that we have to use guarded compassion with others because of people like these. Wonder how many people stop trying to be kind because of being hurt?

Lindsee Lou said...

Oh, this upset me so much too. I do not understand! My whole family actually lives in Ft. Collins and they were so tired of everything. My aunt was about to throw a hissy fit after all was said and done. Poor little boy.

Lori at The Davidson Den said...

Very good post. And I am completely in agreement. I, too, have a compassionate heart, and it is utterly exhausting KNOWING so much about this fallen world. This week I've been so sad for a sweet little 15-month-old girl from Thailand who is being adopted by friends of ours. They are bringing her home in a couple of days, which is wonderful! But my heart just aches for her as she is being uprooted from the only home (albeit foster) that she has ever known...going with these people she has only JUST laid eyes on who speak a foreign language. Just the idea of her not understanding what is happening to her!! I imagine my own little ones in that situation, and it just takes my breath away.

katiegfromtennessee said...

I had heard about the ballon incident, although I hadn't heard the whole story, I heard the parent's lied. All that to try and get themselves a reality show or something like that?? I'm sorry you were lied to like that by that girl, and then by this woman. I'm so sorry...I know forgiveness is huge here to keep from bitterness. I don't think I can begin to know what kind of people a ministry like this may run into. Godly discernment is key, isn't it? My momma was always telling me to give people the benefit of the doubt growing up. She's super optimistic. It's hard to know who's genuine and what their intentions are toward you. I pray for godly wisdom and discernment for all of us-deception is rough to handle. Good thing we have the Lord, He keeps us from getting a hard heart towards humanity. He's the only reason why or how I've forgiven people.

katiegfromtennessee

Anita K said...

You are precious. I was so like you, I walked around with a heart ache for those around me. However, I have allowed the sharp edges of my life to harden my heart. I pray you don't allow that to happen to you. Nevertheless, my heart does ache when someone is cruel and mean to another, even to you. I guess I have just evolved into a protective heart. God Hugs for you I pray.