In 1994 I experienced a moment of clarity. For the previous couple of years I had been volunteering with a student outreach program at my church. I had never worked with teenagers before. The students were pretty diverse, but I found myself drawn to the ones who didn’t typify what you might expect from church kids. They were the products of the difficult stories in which they found themselves. They covered their pain and anger with humor, drugs, alcohol…anything to ease the pain.
One in particular, Celeste, was the catalyst for my decision to pursue youth work on a full time basis. She came from a broken home. The story of her family, as it is with any divorce, was heartbreaking and the course she had traveled clearly affected every aspect of her life. In working with students like Celeste I knew what I needed to do with my life. I left my job and went back to school to train for my new vocation. In the pursuit of this calling on my life, I would mostly lose contact with Celeste, but I would never forget her.
Fast forward 20 years…
I don’t know what I expected this journey would be like, but what I did not expect was how hard it would be. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The best way to describe how I often feel is like the Denzel Washington character in The Book of Eli, a weathered and weary nomad on a mission. The road has been hard for a number of reasons. But, there is nothing else I would rather do.
With the advent of social media I was able to reconnect with Celeste on Facebook not too many years ago and she turned out great. She didn’t get there easily, which may make where she is now that much sweeter.
One of my recent posts led to a conversation among my Facebook friends that peaked with a comment Celeste left. It had nothing to do with the original post, but it made my day and reminded me why I do what I do:
You are crazy!
Maybe that’s why I understood you, way back when….
No one else spoke my language from that era in my life.
Neither mother or father could see past their own understanding of the circumstances which landed each member of our broken family in a messy, lonely, and confusing place.
The ripple effect of events having taken place before I was yet two years old still cause waves in all of our lives today.
We are all products of the past, and I know we all found our way through the mess with The Father’s love, and unfathomable grace.
I have special relationships with each, despite the broken path my life walk has been.
And this too, is a gift from God.
But, in that moment in my life, you were the only person who got through to me, and showed me a different picture of who Christ was.
I’ll be forever grateful that you are a little crazy.
Crazy enough to reach into the lives of me and my friends, and speak the language that we spoke.
I see God in both of my parents now, but I saw Him in you first.
Thanks for being kinda insane…
Looking back I must have been crazy to take that leap from a predictable corporate life to what I do now. But, I’ll never regret it.