Saturday, May 14, 2011

They're B-A-C-K!! Part 2

Yesterday I told you the first part of the story about "my" boys.  Today, I'd like to continue to the story:

Anger, if not restrained, is frequently more
hurtful to us than the injury that provokes it.
-- Seneca.

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Unfortunately, the evening did not end there.  The third young man who had been so silent most of this time yelled at me that what I was doing was not fair, that he liked the previous director a whole lot better than me, and ran from the room calling me a name that was not unfamiliar to me.  Before the evening was over, he had called me that name three times and written it on the church sidewalk a fourth. 

The good news is that I had the opportunity to visit with the three of them again.  After we had eaten our picnic supper in the church’s fellowship hall (thunderstorms drove us to safety) we went outside to the parking lot to play some games.  Guess who had been trolling the block?  You guessed it!  My three little friends were waiting for us to come out.  They stayed a half a block or so away, but there they were.  I was not surprised.  I was actually glad.  When the other kids were busy with their games, I moved over to the three sitting on the sidewalk watching and sat down. 

“This really sucks, huh?” I said.  “We should be there too,” my little (he is by far the smallest youth in the entire bunch, but he’s a leader, no doubt) leader said.  I agreed with him and I asked him what choices he made that led him to sitting on the sidewalk at the far end of the block, away from the fun.  Initially, he tried to say it was the other kids’ faults for making him laugh, but then he stopped and said, “But my apology was sincere.”  I agreed, it had been so what had gone wrong afterward.  “Well, I couldn’t help it,” he said.  “I’m sorry.”  And I believe he was.  At that, the second kiddo said, “Yeah, I’m really sorry too.”  And I believe he was.  I thanked them both and assured them that they have a place in the group and that I really want them to join us.

The third young man, with the questionable vocabulary, never stopped ‘erupting.’  From the time I walked over and sat down with them, he was a constant fountain of angry and hurtful words.  The hurt in his eyes was palpable.  Try as I might to talk to him, he would not let me through.  It was not long before the other two began to tell him to stop, to shut up, to go away.  “You’re going to get us into more trouble,” they said.  He would not stop. 

The pastor walked over to us when he finished cleaning the sidewalk.  (I would have made the boys clean it up, but it was already done).  I shared with him that the two young men had been apologetic and that I had assured them that they were all welcome in our church and in our group.  So that everyone can have a good time and feel safe and loved, we must have rules and everyone must follow those rules.  Respect and cooperation are the first of those rules along with love for each other.  Pastor thanked the boys for their words and apologies and then looked to the third young man, who was NOT fearful of this big, impressive man.  His anger was still seeping out all over him, the sidewalk, the other boys, me, and then onto the pastor. 

He assured the young man that he too was welcome in our group, but he would have to be willing to make some changes.  The young man spouted, of course, that he would not.  It reminded me of the scripture where the father comes to Jesus to ask him to heal his son of the demons that had possessed him his entire life.  Jesus calls the demons out where they go into a herd of pigs and the pigs run to the water and all drown.  That young man on Wednesday was full of demons.  When his mother arrived to pick him up a little later, another of the leaders-who happens to be related to her- shared with her the events of the evening and his lack of remorse.  The mother came to me with tears streaming down her face.  She apologized and we talked privately for a while.  Of course, this group is not the only place this man is having trouble.  She is at a loss as to what to do.  I assured her that youth group is not just for and about the young people.  We are there for the parents too, and somehow, we will get through this together.

So, what will happen next Wednesday night?  I believe two of the young men will be there.  I believe that they will come with a different attitude and that the young man, who wants so desperately to be a leader, just might be.  And I think he’ll be a good one!

As for the third young man, I’m not finished with him yet.  We have a lot of work to do.  There will be lots of prayers, no doubt.  There will be time spent with mom and step-dad to provide them with the nourishment they need.  And there will be time spent with the young man.  I’m not sure how yet, but I will spend time with him.  With God’s help, we will continue to try to reach this young man’s heart and remove the demons that are torturing him. 

I understand this family a little bit.  This young man’s father turned his back on him at a very early age.  His step-father adopted him and has provided for him most of his life.  My son, too, was adopted by his father and I.  My son, too, has a father who hasn’t always been there for him.  I understand the heartache this mother feels.  I understand the anger and hurt that this young man feels.  I know how lost they all are for answers.  My son, too, faces his own demons.  I have the benefit of being a little further down the road than this family is.  I can see a light at the end of the tunnel.  It’s a ways off yet, but it’s there.  Perhaps this is why I am here. 

Who knew there could be so much drama in a church youth group?  I did.  God placed me here for a reason.  Maybe it was this young man, maybe it was for his family, maybe it was for something else entirely.  I don’t know.  I don’t have to know.  I just know that I’ll keep working on all of it, because that’s what I’m here to do.

I’ll keep you posted!  Blessings to you!   

No man can think clearly when his fists are
-- George Jean Nathan. 
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