I looked him in the eye and asked how he was doing. His bravado was extinguished by familial dysfunction and he couldn’t keep back the tears. He shared and I listened. I reassured and reminded him I would be there. He walked away and I wanted to do so much more.
Another young man breaks down. He shares how much he loves his dad and how we would do anything to see him in church and sitting by his side. I give him a pat on the back, encourage him, and give him a simple game plan. I struggle with what to do or say further. He leaves and I weep.
He’s shaken and I know he’s troubled. This student’s eyes are crimson and he tells me he’s worried about his momma. He’s “never seen her this way” and he’s worried, but he has hope and says thank you because something I did may have changed things just a bit. He sits down in class and I pray a prayer for him and his mom, but I only wish there was more I could say or do.
He returned. Expulsion didn’t keep this young man from restoration and resurrection. My tears flowed. Another young man pats me on the back because he knows I’m overflowing with emotion. I leave my seat and give “the prodigal” a hug and lift him off the ground, but he still has to face reality when he leaves this place and it makes me mad and sad.
They noisily gather in the classroom. Lunch is over and they’re clowning around as usual. I start each class with a prayer and today was not different, except . . . I paused. I made mention that a few had come my way and that they had troublesome conditions at home and so I asked, “Is there anyone else who could use a prayer because things at home just aren’t right?”
The room gets silent, many of them lower their heads, and almost every student raises his/her hand. I wept while praying and then handed out the worksheet for the day. There’s so much more I wish I could do. It was then that I hears a still small voice say, “Just be there.”
Sometimes all it takes to illuminate someone’s day is being there, giving a hug, and maybe saying a prayer. Sometimes there’s nothing more we can do and I was reminded today that sometimes IT’S ENOUGH.
Know someone who is hurting? BE THERE.
ADDED THURSDAY MORNING (4/17/14):
‘Dear Father, Please wrap your loving arms of compassion around each of these young men today and remind them that they are loved, they are Yours, and that You will never leave them nor forsake them!”