Posted on Friday, March 6, 2015 in Uncategorized
I took a left turn into an unfamiliar parking lot. I pulled into an open parking spot. With some uncertainty I stepped out of our car.
I walked around the landscaped wall. Turning right I entered what appeared to be the backyard with a very well designed wood deck positioned to my left. Seeing a door into the building I turned the corner.
Smiling in front of me was fourteen year old AnnMarie. (Pictured on the left next to Rachel)
AnnMarie walked directly up to me and asked, “Hi! Who the @#$% are you?” That was my introduction to TreeHouse.
That day at TreeHouse I found a complex mix of adolescent cultures, racial diversity, emotional safety, spiritual depth and invested mentors. I loved it, and on March 12, 1990 I began my self-defined “five year” commitment to TreeHouse. Next week I will celebrate my twenty-fifth year at TreeHouse.
This post is part of a series called “10 for 25” of ten important lessons I’ve learned.
Over My Head
One of the first most important lessons I learned was how hard a job TreeHouse would become. Not physically hard, but emotionally and spiritually draining. I wasn’t ready for that. I was over my head.
In my first weeks I saw first-hand how much pain people could inflict upon those they claim to love. Violence took many turns, but among the most sad was when generations of physical violence passed from generation to generation and infiltrated the love of an abusive mother and her equally abusive daughter. I was over my head.
Three teens – who on any other day – would have said “I love you” to friends or family deeply wounded themselves and their loved ones with their shocking suicide attempts. I was over my head.
Looking for relief and solutions to their stresses several teens abused alcohol and drugs. Three of those teens found their use almost took their lives before entering drug treatment programs. I was over my head.
What was I to do?
Feeling lost, intimidated and determined to address the challenges I faced and the people I serve. I prayed and asked God for wisdom: Please God help me!
Then I read in my Bible strategies that I use to this day: “Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear…” 1
Be merciful: Lost and confused people don’t need to be scolded, they need a hug and direction.
Be bold: Self-destructive people who are willing to receive support need quick, abrupt intervention.
Be careful: Some people are not interested in help; beware that their journey doesn’t derail your own.
Even after twenty-five years I am still learning, and sometimes I still feel over my head.
#mysilentscream: Please God help me!
1 – Jude 1:22-23, NIV