If It Doesn't Work the First Time...

The hardest thing, when you see people you love dearly struggling, is to let them walk away. By far one of the hardest lessons I have had to learn is to let go. I used to take boys running away as a personal failure. I would play scenarios over and over in my mind and drive myself crazy wondering what if. What if I said something different? What if I loved them more? What if I wouldn’t have lost my patience or gotten angry? The list of what ifs is endless.

But I have learned, that change isn’t my responsibility. Actually, I am completely incapable of making anyone change anything. It doesn’t matter how much they love me, how much I love them, how much is done for them, etc. When they aren’t ready or willing, nothing matters. Nothing helps. And most days it leaves me feeling helpless and what’s the point.

But…

I have learned that our only calling is to be faithful. Faithful to Jesus. Faithful to ourselves. Faithful to those we love. And even faithful to those we don’t. Faithful to Good.

Because when we are, we create a space where no matter what, people know they are loved. They know they have a space of freedom where their worth isn’t based on what they can do or who they can be. For some, that can be scary. We live in a world where we are only loved for how we look, perform, or what we can do. When we can’t live up to others’ expectations, the love usually stops. We naturally run in those situations before someone chases us away. We all do it.

Including the boys.

It is always hard for me sending the emails, saying something has gone wrong and one of the boys has chosen the streets again over home. They aren’t always received with understanding, and I am so grateful when they are. But I know that we have created a space of forgiveness and faithfulness at home. And I know when they are ready they will be back. So I wait patiently…

Change takes time. It isn’t easy and the path is different for every one. It is the greatest mystery how we each interpret the same event differently. That’s another hard lesson learned.

Some don’t understand why I don’t chase after boys and force them to come home. Can you force someone to change? Locking people in prison doesn’t force people to change. And home can never be a prison. People have to have freedom to be there if they choose. Boys need to know they have options. Free to stay. Free to go.

One boy went some time back. Normally, even when they go, they check in every now and again. But I hadn’t seen him or heard of his whereabouts since he left. But I was waiting…

My first day back, he showed up at the gate. He apologized and said where he has been. Then he told me his plans and asked for help. He looked happy and healthy. Changed. More serious. Focused. We helped him with some materials for his crafts he is going to make and sell, and he went on his way.

Sometimes things don’t work the first time, but that doesn’t mean you give up. You give it time, hope it gets fixed, and try again until it does.

amanda jones