I spend my days with kids who are unruly, defiant, oppositional; who are wounded in ways the world cannot easily see. I usually find something to like, even love about these kids. However there is one kid with whom I am struggling. He is hostile, crude, sly, salacious and downright cruel. I have read his history, it is not pretty or kind. He was born into a family of violence and abuse. He has had the odds against him his whole life. I try to be kind, empathetic, caring but he rejects my attempts. He doesn't let me in and won't talk. Only one other time have I encountered someone like this. I pray for and about kids like these.
In contrast I spent yesterday at a statewide church sponsored talent show. I watched as teen after teen sang about God, Jesus, their longing for grace and mercy. I watched parents cry and smile and cheer their kids on. I watched as families and friends hugged, held hands, prayed together and celebrated both wins and losses. I watched kids cheer each other on, support each other, love each other. I watched people being vulnerable and real, unguarded and open.
I couldn't help but contrast these weekend kids with my weekday kids.
I saw the stark contrasts so clearly: family support vs family rejection. Love vs disdain. A life of the spirit vs a life of the flesh. I thought about how my teen years could have been different if I had not been born into a loving supportive family. How my nieces and nephews and their children could have turned out if my siblings and I had not shown them love and support.
And it hurt. It made me both incredibly grateful and incredibly sad. Honored and humbled. It made me want to show kids that there is love in the world. That there is hope and healing.