“No wonder his parents gave upon him!” I thought to myself as I drove home that night. “He spends his whole day aggravating anyone he comes into contact with. He lies constantly, he provokes people ALL DAY LONG, he has an excuse for everything I swear he must get some kind of pleasure out of making my life miserable.”
I couldn’t get him out of my mind. I thought about how his mother had sent him to his grandparents to live when she couldn’t stand his constant arguing with her. After all, Grandpa had assured her a little discipline would “straighten him out.” When he repeatedly missed curfews, and ignored Grandpa, he was sent to a foster home. When his foster father discovered marijuana in his bedroom and he was caught shoplifting at the local K-Mart, both in the same month, he was introduced to the court system. For three years, he got “wrist slaps” for various offences because, after all, “he’s just a kid.” When he was arrested for taking a joy-ride in a stolen car, his probation officer decided it was time to get serious. After 90 days in detention, he was sent to our facility.
His caseworker, who looked more relieved to have him out of her hair than concerned about his success, repeatedly droned on about how he needed a place like we had to help him turn his life around, to give him a second chance.
You’d think he would have appreciated our efforts! His teacher spent two hours teaching him multiplication, only to watch him tear up his homework assignment. Another staff member spent hours supporting him when his grandmother refused to accept a collect phone call again, only to get spat at when she told him he had to re-make his bed. To top it off, after I stuck my neck out to get him a part-time job, he showed his gratitude by arriving late three days in a row. How many times did he expect people to forgive and forget? No wonder everybody hated him!
When I arrived home that night, my dog greeted me at the back door, her tail wagging a mile a minute. My youngest son proudly showed me the picture he’d drawn, “just for you, Dad.” My wife set out my favourite dinner, explaining, “I was thinking about you today.”
Finally I understood.
Lord, help me to realize that the frustration and pain I feel trying to help someone who hates himself is but a small fraction of what he feels. After all, he feels like that every day, all day long.