Some days, I love my job with my whole heart. Some days, I leave the school after classes end with a broken heart and simply weep for the brokenness of my students. The first Thursday back at school after Christmas Break , the one when Tre* finally opened up to me during study hall, was one of the days when the feelings of loving my job and wanting to weep collided.
“You know Tre, sometimes the things that you say just remind me of my little brother.”
“You have brothers Miss?”
“Yupp! Want to see?” I flipped through my Facebook on my phone to find a picture of my brothers, my mom, and I standing outside at my high school graduation.
“Wow… You don’t look anything like your mom!”
“I get that a lot… I think it has something to do with the fact that she’s tiny and blonde… and well, I’m tall and brown.” I said as I laughed and put my phone down on the table.
My student sighed and stared thoughtfully at my phone. “People say I look a lot like my dad… Want to see a picture?”
“Sure,” I said as he put his hand out for my iPhone. I watched him type in his dad’s name into Google and I expected for his Facebook page to pop up. Instead, the first link that came up was a decade old news article. He tapped on it with his finger and the story opened.
Man sentenced to 15 years for aggravated assault and robbery
Below that headline was a mug shot of a man that undoubtedly was the father of the teenage boy sitting in front of me. “See Miss, we almost look like twins. Well, except that he’s way older obviously.”
“That’s crazy…” I said as I smiled at him, watched him close out of the news story, and place my phone back on my desk.
Yes, their resemblance was uncanny, but that wasn’t the crazy part… For a split second, this emotionally closed off student had let me into his world… and his world was heart breaking. This boy is only 14 years old… and if I did my math correctly based off of the date of that news article, it meant that his dad hadn’t been there for at least the last 8 years of his life.
Suddenly everything about Tre came into focus– the way he acted out for attention in classes, his flippant attitude toward God and adults (particularly adult men), and the way he simply didn’t seem to understand how to be a young man.
Of course he didn’t understand how to be a man; he likely hasn’t ever had a male role model! And no duh he is resistant to God– The only “father” he has ever known hasn’t been around to care for him or act like a real father.
Unfortunately, Tre’s situation is more the norm than the deviation at the Street School. The majority of our students have never met their fathers, if they even know who their fathers are…
So trying to show them “God the Father” is a difficult task; but it’s moments like the ones that happened that Thursday morning that make all of this rough work worth it.
I know that God is using little moments like those to build relationships with my kids that will eventually lead to conversations about Himself and His love.
And it will be through conversations like these, that I have had the pleasure of watching Tre’s journey unfold. While there are days when it is a struggle and he breaks my heart, he is becoming a strong, dependable young man who we all can be proud of.
To hear more student stories like Tre’s, join us at our 2014 Evening of Stars Gala. To see more information about the Night or register now, click here.