- Helped a former youth from my church breathe during labor while her boyfriend slept. I later was there while she gave birth to a healthy beautiful little boy.
- Had another former youth from my church "come out" to me
- Had a call from my husband's cousin's wife, crying, asking me to pray with her over her marriage falling apart.
- Helped a former youth from my church learn to drive a car, since she's moved out of the house, so her parents won't help.
- Hosted another youth event in my home, despite swearing off of them, just a month earlier.
- During the youth event learning that a couple of the youth were suicidal
- Seeing on Facebook, within a month of the youth event, one of the youth saying she wanted to die
- Learned that the suicidal girl was upset because one of our other youth was being cruel to her
- Discussed birth control with one of the former youth because she's currently having unprotected sex.
NONE of these things are things that I am comfortable with. I am not trained in any way, shape or form to deal with youth and their myriad of problems. When my friend was having her baby boy, I wanted to take off. I have wanted a son for a long time, so this seemed cosmically unfair. I AM NOT the person that people come out to. I don't know anything about marriage counseling - some days I am doing good to stay in my own (wonderful) marriage. I do not give off the warm and fuzzy vibe. I am bossy, I am opinionated, I can be downright MEAN. And, at the core of things, this stuff scares me. It makes me feel as if the handle I had on things is precariously loose at best, and not even present at worst.
Yet, I have Facebooked the suicidal girl not to do anything rash, and contacted the youth minister. I offer to babysit my friend's precious little boy. I encourage her to stay in college and better her life. I stay in contact with my gay friend and have invited her to come to the house next time she is in town. I have called Planned Parenthood to research options and will likely take my friend there next week. I have cried and prayed over the cousin's and his wife's marriage. And I will likely host another youth even next year for the same group of kids that were in my home this year. But I want to RUN and HIDE!!!
Loving like this hurts and is scary. It feels like I don't know what to do, or what to say, or scared that I will say the wrong thing the majority of the time lately. But I am so glad that I am trying. I worry that if I don't do what I have been doing, these kids could just slip through the cracks. Their parents seem to not get it.
When my friend was giving birth, it shouldn't have been me holding her hand (it was a privilege and a great honor) but it should have been her mom. Same for suicidal girl, and birth control girl and gay girl and the list goes on and I just do not understand where these parent are.
My parents weren't perfect. They did the best they could, but at times, we were pretty screwed up. I can remember when my husband and I started dating his little brother was about 7. We were over at his house one day and his dad was roughhousing and hugging on his little brother. I remember thinking that it was odd that dad would still be hugging on a child that old. It is pretty sad, looking back, to realize that I thought that way. With that said, I've heard James Dobson say "your kids learn how much you love them by the way you parent your most difficult child." and I have watched my parents with my sister. My sister has had a drug problem, two illegitimate children, and a failed marriage. My parents have raised her kids, helped her get a home, put her through rehabs, and now babysit to help her single parent. I know no matter what I can get myself into, my parent will still love me and be there for me the best they can, despite their flaws.
While I don't understand, at all, the seeming absence of parents in my young friends lives, I am trying very hard not to be judgemental about it. I don't know about the hurts in the parent's lives, I don't know about how they grew up and I haven't walked in their shoes. They are people, too, and must be hurting greatly.
I'm not a perfect parent either, by any stretch of the imagination. I DO hope, however, that by the time my kids are old enough to have problems that are over my head, I will have progressed in my journey towards loving enough to help them through it.