13 August 2012

Never Give Up.

Working with teens is one of the coolest, more rewarding, most fun things about my life. Some of you read that two or three times-- blinking, shaking your heads, knowing you misread it-- but it still reads the same. "Don't you mean most frustrating, Miles?" No, I don't, Sure, there are times it can be frustrating, but that's true of everything in life worth doing.

There are these two siblings I've never been able to connect with. Since they were able to walk and talk, they've just never had any interest in me. And that's fine. I don't expect to be friends with the whole world (though that would be awesome). But we're friends with their parents, we go to church with them, we occasionally eat with them. I love them all.

I've given these siblings their space, just been there, offered hugs, interest, and jokes. I haven't pushed-- too often (their mom told me a while back, "Every now and then just hug them, anyway. They need it.")

But now that Sharon and I are officially working with the youth I want it clear they matter as much as anyone else, that they're loved, that they aren't being ignored or shut out. So this weekend at the lock-in I paid them a little more than usual. Nothing looked any different.

Tonight we had a dinner for the youth who'd made a special commitment, to spend time with them and start the process for what they had committed to. When I got ready to sit down, the only open space was also the only table with no adults. The slot was between these two sibs. My first thought was to give them some space; I don't want them to feel pressured. But it was the only open spot, so I sat down. And within a couple of minutes of talking with them and the other teens there (both of whom I'm very close to), these two pretty much took over the conversation. You'd have thought I was a long lost uncle or something.

It wasn't anything deep. It wasn't anything I (or, I presume, they) needed. It was just different. Suddenly, there was relationship. Suddenly, there was trust. Suddenly...

No. There was no suddenly. These were built up over time, with patience, love, and respect. There was no agenda. There were no demands. There were no expectations.

How did I learn to do this? From the way God pursued me, and from a handful of people over the years. Most of us haven't noticed anyone treating us this way, or we thought they were weird because nobody else did this, or... It really doesn't matter why. The reality is that real love-- patient, kind, unenvying, modest, humble, honoring love[1]-- calls out the good in people, and always has a chance of making a difference. Anything less is going to fail, one way or another, sooner or later.

Most of us are all too familiar with the broken, incomplete types of love (or the fakes that masquerade as love), with the resulting failures. Try the real deal. If you don't know how, find someone offering it and experience it for a while. There's some serious healing in there.

Some times it takes a while.

Don't give up.

God doesn't give up on you.

Neither will I.

[1] I Cor 13