Earlier today, I had a conversation with L.C- a young man that I mentor- about the importance of looking towards the future, rather than always looking over our shoulders at the past.
I shared with him the wise words of the Apostle Paul:
“Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead,”- Philippians 3:13
I reminded him how people will always try to tear him down and try to treat him as though his past mistakes are an expression of all that he is- as if his future is bleak because they hold him in contempt for what they judge of his past.
I encouraged him to base his self concepts and self esteem upon What God said about him:
“You have made them a little lower than the angels
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
you put everything under their feet:
all flocks and herds,
and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
and the fish in the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.”- Psalm 8:5-9
Furthermore and, particularly in L.C.’s case:
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”- II Corinthians 5:17
The fact is, I instructed L.C., that people may change how they feel about you for any silly reason. We cannot afford to put our faith and confidence in man.
Lo and behold, Satan came immediately to try to steal the Word which was sown into this young man’s heart.
We went to his old school to see if we could get a copy of his transcripts, that he might get a State I.D. Upon arriving at the school, we encountered a former counselor, who we discovered was released due to budget problems. She was loading her car with her things.
We explained to the woman what we needed. Reluctantly, after I repeatedly expressed the urgency of the situation, she agreed to see what she could do.
The moment we got into her office, she started telling L.C. that she remembers how bad he used to be. She actually said to him “I hope you are better now”.
I allowed her to get one more negative sentence of her mouth about this young man, before I finally spoke up.
I stated, “Excuse me, doesn’t he look fabulous?! The past doesn’t matter. His future is bright, he is motivated and he is doing just fine. It is important for him to focus on the hope which he has in the future.. It’s also time for others to encourage him to do so rather than try to put him in bondage to any past that he cannot change.
She then changed her entire attitude and became much more enthusiastic about helping him. Ultimately, we did get all that needed.
However, imagine had L.C. went there by himself?
This woman even had the nerve to remark how Black kids in the city, especially, don’t like to get driver”s licenses, etc. I had no idea where she was coming from.
Imagine a young student who may be at a fragile place in his or her life. Perhaps they had
domestic problems at home, low self esteem and poor self concepts- but were beginning to gain confidence.
Then an adult like this so called counselor, comes along and pummels them with negative deficits. That could have potentially destructive consequences for a teen.
L.C. explained to me that this woman has always been like that,, especially towards Black kids. I have no reason to doubt him, in light of what I saw and experienced today.
I am just so thankful that I was there, as L.C. was speechless. I understand.
A mentor told me years ago that it is important that, rather than tell our youth we are sending them here or there, that we walk though the door with them, if not ahead of them.
He said that our youth often encounter hurdles though these doors that they need wisdom to overcome.
Today was a good example of that.
Ironically, when I spoke with L.C.’s mother and told of her of the incident, she asked me if it was the very woman who treated L.C. that way. Mind you, L.C. had been with me all day and had not talked to mom to advise her of this matter. It shows that there is a history or track record of this woman treating L.C. so condescendingly and, undoubtedly, doing to same to other students.
Charity is great. It is needed. However, we cannot deal with our youth as though they are charity cases who we need no personal connection to. They are not cogs on a wheel or “notches on our belt” of piety, where we feel good about what we did for them, even as we failed to maintain a personal relationship with them.
They truly need our guidance and, as my experience today demonstrated, our protection.
So many times, we are engaged in ad hoc events and programs for kids, feeling really good about ourselves and never stopping to actually get to know the kids we meet. Never discovering what life really looks and feels like to these kids.
That has to change.
Let’s walk with our youth, every step of the way.