“One thought in John Eudes’ conference touched me very much. He said that to respond to God’s love was a great act of faith. He compared it to people who have felt very lonely and isolated, very rejected and unloved during many years of their life and who suddenly meet someone who cares. For such people it is very hard to believe that his or her care is authentic and honest. It requires a great act of faith to accept the love that is offered to us and to live, not with suspicion and distrust, but with the inner conviction that we are worth being loved.” – henri nouwen in genesee diary
She’s 14 by age, almost 15 because her birthday is next Friday – the 21st she reminds me afraid I will forget it – afraid everyone will forget it.
14 was a rough year for her – kicked out of 3 high schools just her freshman year putting her many credits short of being a sophmore. Two of her sisters got pregnant. Mom lives with boyfriend northside just sporadically stopping by their house southside to pay rent and drop off groceries. Gang drama and boy drama form the backdrop of her days. Stories of getting high, drunk, of being around pointed and loaded guns with bullet holes in the floor of their bathroom as witness. She gets cussed out often and much by sisters, mom, mom’s boyfriend, friends, enemies, and more. She tries desperately to hold onto the friendship with her best friend, to get love from her mom and sisters.
Chaos, no structure, harsh words, survival, be tough, characterize her most of the days of her 14th year of life.
She went to camp last week. She went to Christian camp for urban youth in southern Missouri. She went to camp just two weeks before her 15th birthday.
A great way to mark the end of a rough year.
She loved camp. Her counselors loved her. Other counselors loved her. Her fellow campers loved her. Everyone loved her. She’s athletic, knows the cheers by heart, and can dance – all parts of making her a great camper. She was at a place that embraced her – loved her – affirmed her.
At first she eagerly accepted such love so freely offered. But as the week wore on she became more and more uncomfortable with the place, the environment. She was uncomfortable with the love, with the stability, it began to seem dangerous to her, began to seem to require too much faith in other people. She began to shut down. She began to loose faith in the love freely offered her.
She fought against the stability, fought against the love with stubbornness. She stood in the rain for two hours in the dark of night refusing to speak or move. She refused to eat breakfast or lunch even though her stomach ached for food and was causing her head to ache as well.
My heart broke at her resistance to receive the love offered to her, her resistance to receive the stability offered to her.
Even in her stubbornness and fighting she held it together – made it through camp without getting kicked out even though she had come close several times.
On the way home she found out that her and her sisters were moving northside the day after she arrived home. On the way home the instability and unstructured found her once again.
I pray she remembers the love offered to her. I pray she remembers the stability offered to her. I pray she receives the love. I pray she is encouraged. I pray she goes back to camp next year.
the days are long but the years are short
9 months ago