I shouldn’t have been able to see him in the middle of the morning like that. He should have been in some class at one high school or another. But he wasn’t in class. Instead, as I was buzzed through a series of solid steel doors, he was finishing an English test for his GED courses. Courses he’s taking because kids in jail don’t go to regular school. But he wants to finish.
As we talked, he asked about a Psalm he’d been reading and what it all meant and I babbled on about Old Testament history and fitting things into the right place in that history to understand better, and how David, the guy that wrote the particular Psalm he was asking about, had messed up really bad, but still was dubbed “a man after God’s own heart”… And that was what he was looking for. He needed to know that there is grace enough that he could be forgiven.
I kept thinking about all the potential that is locked up in what we call a Juvenile Detention Center. What will become of these kids? Many of the kids I saw today will spend a lot of their lives in facilities like this. For some it already seems to be a pattern. As I was leaving, a boy who was probably about 13 or 14 seemed to be getting processed in. When I was 13, this would have been pretty traumatic for me – 4 or 5 corrections officers standing by, watching as the restraints were removed and pockets searched as I was ushered in to change into a prison uniform… I would have been wetting my pants! This kid, however young he was, already knew the routine. This was normal for him.
But back to the young man I’d met with… He wants a new normal. He doesn’t want this to be the pattern for his life. And he’s learning to lean on grace to make that possible. He’s hoping to enter a treatment facility soon. 3 weeks clean has been a good start, but he knows he’s only just starting a journey that won’t be easy. (Please be praying…) Grace can unlock his potential to live a better story.
Which makes me wonder…
What potential have I locked up within myself because I haven’t dared to let grace work there? What about you? What fear or bitterness or shame do we harbor, keeping us from becoming what God dreams we could be?