For some of us, there comes a time in life when it feels like everyone has given up on you.
You might even feel like giving up on yourself.
As I write this, I've just returned from spending the day in the hospital with my oldest son. Suffice it to say he's on the brink of giving up on himself. He waffles, as I suspect many teenagers do, between thinking he's the greatest thing since sliced bread and seriously wondering why anyone "wastes" their time with him.
If you've followed me for any length of time, you know the trials this kid has been through. Here are a few "highlights":
abandoned before birth by his biological father, and never quite related to his step dad in a parental way.
lost his grandmother the same night we buried his great-grandfather, and had the "pleasure" of being the one to find her dead.
multiple trips to ER for broken parts of his anatomy due to lack of impulse control while angry.
multiple stays in psychiatric care.
various prescriptions, doctors and contradictory diagnoses during his early adolescence.
drug and alcohol abuse
a chronic flight risk
his picture is on permanent display in the local police office and most of them know him by name or on sight.
Oh, and he'll probably get irritated that I'm writing about him this way on my blog.
In short, it would be easy for people outside the situation to write this kid off as a hopeless case. I can't tell you the number of times my so-called "friends" and or family have suggested I either kick him out, have him arrested, or beat him - none of which are options for various reasons.
Still, to give up on my kid? Not gonna happen.
Because for all the outward aggression and disrespectful behavior I see, there's also the tell-tale signs of a teenager trying to do right:
Interacting with specific adults in a respectful, even courteous and thoughtful manner.
Taking special care of his friends, and showing them compassion during their darkest times.
Writing amazing poetry and stories that are very mature for his age.
Taking care of the animals and small children of his friends.
He even cleans his room and makes his bed without being asked most of the time.
When do you decide that someone is no longer "worth" believing in?
Said another way: where do you draw the line at seeing the good in someone when they can't see it in themselves?
Our local police have done everything in their power to help our situation. According to everyone I've spoken with he's just "not bad enough" to go to jail. They tell me that if he actually hurts another human being THEN they can put him in lock-up. The school has little recourse at this point, since he's "too old" for the truancy program and "too young" to drop out.
But if I give up on my kid, who will believe in him?
Who will look him in the eye and tell him he's got gifts and talents that the world needs? Who will take him to the hospital when he's done another "dumb stupid" that could have turned out much worse? Who will carry him through this incredibly mixed-up drama called puberty? Teenage brains still have a lot of development to do, which means he chemically may not even be capable of understanding some of the stupid things he's doing. If I give up now, who will be there to hold him once he's got an adult brain?
Sure, he'll say he's mad at me, and he'll try to make me feel guilty for "wasting" his Friday in the hospital. But then he turns to me and says "I love you, Mom" in a way that reminds me of what God must go through.
We spit in the face of our own Divinity at least once a day (more frequently if we're honest about it).
We've all been given gifts that we refuse to acknowledge or put to use. We refuse to serve people because we think we don't have what it takes to be useful. Or we've been told that we don't. Somehow, somewhere, we were told to just not try anymore. It's too hard. Why bother?
But the reason it's so hard is because we haven't put in the work required to be awesome. We didn't give ourselves a chance to suck (and sometimes suck HARD!) at it. We wanted to avoid the pain of criticism, or the loss of love from so-called friends or well-meaning family.
So while I don't particularly care for holes in my walls (or my heart), or language that might make Eminem blush, I also refuse to give up on my kid, or my marriage, or believing that God created me for something specific in this world, and it's my job to do my damndest to figure that out, and help my kids to do the same.
No. Matter. What.
Yeah. You're going to hit hard walls. You're going to fall down - a LOT. You're going to get bloody and bruised in your quest to serve others. People won't get you. People will throw rocks at you (sometimes, quite literally).
Don't give up on you.
If you believe down in the cockles of your soul (wherever that is), that you're doing the thing that God called you into this world to do, don't be swayed. Don't let the naysayers, disbelievers, backbiters, and well meaning folk of your life thwart you. No matter how hard it gets. Not to be too blithe in quoting Journey, but "Don't Stop Believing".
No. Matter. What.
When you stop believing, they win (the naysayers, not Journey). Period.
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You have until Midnight ET on May 22 to get your post up.
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Void where prohibited, taxed or restricted. All decisions final. Yadda, yadda, yadda.
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