Why are you doing this?

 

   Once a week for seven months, I stood in front of twenty-four teenage male juveniles. I spoke of leadership based on my very own life experience and referred to the readings and teachings from John C. Maxwell.

One day a young man who sat in the front row raised his hand.

"Yes David?" I said. 

"Ms.....why are you doing this? I mean you can be doing anything you want. Why are you here doing what you do?"

I looked at him as I felt my eyes fill with tears. I looked to the good Lord above, and back at David. Feeling very emotional with my response,  I nodded my head and shrugged my shoulders with a grimace of a smile on my face.

"I don't know why really. Its a God calling. Thats all I know."

With that response, I could see David's expression of satisfaction. For the first time, he felt acknowledged and appreciated.

   I think about this often. As some years have passed, I still keep in touch with David from time to time. Many stories and many young lives, have touched my heart and changed my life. I call these children, my extended family.

   The deeper meaning for my mission is based on the legacy my father left.

This story began when his father, an alcoholic, lost his beloved wife while giving birth to my father's sister. He lost all faith in family and in life. His drinking got worse and he chose to put his children; my father, his brother, and his newborn sister into foster care. My father was seven years old, his brother was four, and his sister was a newborn.

   The experience of loss, neglect, alcoholism, abandonment and confusion at such a young age damages the human psyche for a lifetime.  Reflecting in the stories that dad told, the foster care community was supportive. Although his attitude and view of life growing up was extremely dysfunctional and unsettled, he lived with hope that he could create a better life for his own family someday.

   Some years later, my father's dad re-married. My father, his brother and his sister were reclaimed. However, the damage was done. My grandfather never gave up drinking, and my father always changed the subject when I asked him about his youth.

   What is a life of energy spent, trying to repair such childhood trauma?

 I often wonder, did my Dad ever have someone to look up to...........