My friend Kelly recently wrote a blog post that resonated with something that I’ve also been kicking around the last few weeks. She starts the blog by asking whose fault it is that kids are in gangs? The gang? The parents? The lack of jobs? The lack of mentoring relationships? Everyone’s pointing the finger at everyone else.
“We can all agree that Honduras is in a negative cycle because each of these items depends on the other. But where can we intervene to start it spinning the other direction? One things is for sure, everyone’s got an opinion and it usually seems to be someone else’s responsibility. To me the key is that we all, unanimously, need to take up the charge.”
What I’ve been thinking about is how to make this all of us unanimously taking up the charge happen. We need more people to throw themselves into doing something for these kids, to dedicate themselves to getting this negative cycle spinning the other way. But within the group of people already doing this….let’s just say we sometimes have differing opinions. We don’t always agree on what the kids need or how to meet those needs or how to discipline or when to stop helping or when we’ve helped too much or which kids deserve help over others and if the kids can ever really heal without Jesus. Why can’t we all just get along?? (And by get along, I admit I sometimes mean why can’t everyone see things my way and agree so we can move forward arm and arm singing Kumbaya?)
Recently, Jilli was in a planning meeting with one of the homes we work with and was told that we (well, she, but she is we) are too emotionally invested in the kids. We spent some time expressing our frustration, then remembered that this is a home that we highly respect. They are doing great things, have a surprisingly high success rate and they truly love the kids. So, what does that mean? Pit in the stomach forms…Does this mean…no it can’t be….but it’s seems….I don’t know….I mean….could we be wrong? (Gasp.) But wait! WE have lots of success stories as well! Kids that wouldn’t be where they currently are without our influence. So this means that WE are right! Phew.
Then it dawned on me. Kids….they are all so different.
For instance, in Proniño, we have Rolando who has been sent back to the intake center for a while because it was discovered that he had been smoking some mary-jay-juana.
“It’s because I was going to a school on my own every afternoon and no one cared about where I was or what I was doing and I wanted someone to take notice.”
Love the honesty.
Versus Maycol. who was such a behavior problem that everyone was whispering behind closed doors that ‘we had lost him’ and that there was nothing good in his future. For the first time he’s going to a school by himself every morning and is the happiest and best behaved I’ve ever seen him. He says it’s because it feels so good to be able to be on his own for a little bit every day and to know that he’s trusted.
Two kids. Same schedule.
One feels neglected and unloved. The other feels empowered and free.
So, could this mean that maybe we all have a little bit of ‘right’ in the way that we work? Could this mean that we all bring something to the table? It’s a little bit like a Sunday potluck. We all bring something different to this party. There are kids who are going to thrive under the highly relational, mentoring relationships that we bring. There are others that are going to excel with discipline and structure. (Back to Rolando “When I first got back to Nueva Vida, Zuniga was ALL OVER me, watching my every step.” Me: “I bet that was hard.” Rolando: “No! I loved it! I need someone to be keeping me in line.”)
Even crazier thought – could it be VITAL that all of us work together despite our differences? That we find a way to continually respect and appreciate each other regardless of how strongly we disagree on a few points? Because let’s be honest, it’s possible that Jilli and I could love to the point of enabling. On the other hand, I’ve watched enthusiasm drain right out of kids when they are in a strict environment and treated as one of 90 kids instead of as an individual. When we respectfully disagree, we pull each other back from whatever extreme we gravitate towards.
Because, in the end, it’s not about who’s right and who’s wrong.
It’s about protecting the kids.
Swallowing our own pride if that helps them succeed.