One week she came in angry at everyone and everything. Face in a scowl. No acknowledgement in the hallway. Sick of her teachers, sick of counseling, sick of life. It was a little frightening, the lack of hope so evident at only age 17 – what 17 year old doesn’t feel hope? But hers had vanished, thanks to chronic stress at home and poor choices she had made. I felt compelled to ask my suicide screening questions – thankfully she said no – and I felt the grip of anxiety when her name would come up on my phone with a text, waiting for this self destruct mode to escalate further. I’ve worked pretty closely with her for 2 years now…at times I’ll admit I think, “for what?”
Wednesday afternoons our UrbanPromise leadership team meets to have devotions, touch base and seek input from each other. Recent discussions have centered around core values…and I have really appreciated insights I’ve gained as a result. One is that as a Christian organization we believe that transformation is always possible. Think about that – do you believe that people and situations always, always have the potential to change? More than change, I guess…transform into something new?
Another is that grace abounds. People are given second chances. and third. and fourth and fifth and sixth. Not that there aren’t expectations of behavior and performance, and not that sometimes people don’t need to step away for awhile. But when someone shows readiness to try again – to commit to a different path, to rejoin the community, grace is extended. At least, that is the desire that we try to live up to.
This past week she came in with hope. Something rather final at home – a last straw – had occurred, and instead of fueling hopelessness and self destruction, a new determination sprouted, much like all the seedlings in our garden. “I need to succeed. I need to face my demons. I look forward to a fresh start in school this fall, so that I am not always playing catch up.” Her voice was calm and strong, her eyes were clear and looked straight into mine. Which of course made mine a little watery! I hugged her, praised her and recommitted to walking by her side.