Wednesday, March 25, 2015
The freedom to dream
There is a foster child who has become a part of our life, he is almost an official adult (as if anyone becomes an adult on their 18th birthday more than they were on their 17years and 364th day of life). He is has a sheepish grin, is good at telling stories, he is the coolest person our son has ever met. He wears his hair down over his eyes and is always reaching up to push it aside so he can just peek out to see you. You still can't see him, and maybe that's the point.
This child who's almost a man but still entirely a child, M, came into our life through a mentorship relationship with Kyle. He's not part of my life really, I have only had the privilege of spending time with him a handful of times over the past two years, though he takes up residence in my thoughts, and prayers, and worries on a regular basis.
The other day Kyle came home frustrated after spending time with M, a common emotion after their meetings, because though we love him, we cannot control him and never really will be able to. But we have wisdom he does not possess to see the path before him is so rocky, that just to keep him in one piece will be a success. We want so much to give him something more in this world and are not entirely sure how to do it or even if it's possible. Kyle finally said to me, "he wants to take a year off before taking any sort of classes."
Taking a year off is actually not a bad idea, he is not ready in anyone's opinion to go somewhere alone to college. But we understand that for him saying he's taking a year off is not taking a year off, it is choosing a permanent path of something less than what is possible for him. It is becoming stuck in a life he will not choose, a pattern repeating, a destiny the world says is the only one he deserves.
I looked at Kyle and tried to keep the emotion out of my voice, "he is scared, and if he never tries he will never fail." Then I spent the rest of the night going round and round with God in prayer for M, who I care about in a way that makes no logical sense to me. I was trying to understand him, trying to figure out the magic formula to "fix" him, trying to convince God to just make this easy for everyone. Finally it occurred to me, M doesn't know how to dream.
Dreaming, it's a skill, one that some are never taught, and others like those stuck in the foster care system have stomped out of them. What if no one wanted you, others hurt you and convinced you you were less than. What if someday you would turn a magical number and then even those who cared for you in oder to earn a paycheck left you on your own. What if you had never been taught how to be an adult, how to save money, cook, or interview for a job, but you were expected to figure those things out on your own when the state decided you were no longer their problem.
You would not have the luxury of having goals, or ambitions, or dreams. You would hopefully have the will to survive, to meet your basic needs in anyway you could, to get through each day. The past would be something you tried to forget, to numb away. The future would not be bright, you could not be anything you wanted to be, it would be another day, like this one, a day to survive.
When you ask M for his five year goals, top of the list is not a goal, rather it is what he does not want to become. He does not realize that that is strange, that he is not completing the task correctly, he lacks the ability or the confidence to say I dream of becoming someone, of being safe, of raising a healthy family of my own someday. He believes in the pit of himself that that life is for other people, people distinctively different from himself.
M accepted Christ as his savior a few months back and I have to tell you it gets me through moments when I can't wrap my mind around how to fix all that is broken in him. He has a glorious future, one he doesn't understand yet but we are showing him, teaching him of the promises of God which now fully belong to him. If I could give him anything in this life it would be this: to teach him how to dream. To give him a safe place to land so that when he fails like we all do, he can get up and chase after another dream. To convince him that he too can do great things, that he is worthy of love, of a future, of the freedom to dream.