I got an email on my phone from Andrew, it read:
Just had a call from Veronica for a 15-year-old boy. He was ordered out of his home . . . Not the easiest kid. Kind of a punk. Runs away but comes back. Has some charges – assault and battery & with dangerous weapon . . . 14 year old girl friend is pregnant.
Veronica at the Department of Children and Families is wonderful. When she calls, she tells us whatever it is that she does know. It is usually very little, but she is always open and honest. Even when she tells us things like “kind of a punk” we know that she does so out of love, for each child and for us. She wants us to be ready for who comes through the door, and for the child, she wants a family that is ready to welcome him or her, whatever the issues.
So I was ready for Horatio when he walked through the door. I was ready to be tough and have good boundaries. I was ready to lay down the law while he was with us, and to have our days shifted into a kind of vigilance.
I was not as ready to feel the surge of emotions I felt when I met him.
He came through the door a few hours later. Before me was a boy, his skin was a toasted tan; he had a mop of soft brown curls, on top of his tilted head. He was handsome in a boyish way; his imperfections clear, illustrated by a lazy eye that never quite focused. He had a swagger that somehow held both pride and uncertainty — together. And he seemed immediately ready to just be present with us, whatever that might mean.
In that moment, I felt a wash of compassion, hope, and love. He was a kid. I knew from what we had been told that he had made poor choices, but it seemed like he could be standing at a cross roads, and in that moment and over the days we spent together, who he had been always paled in my heart compared to who he could be.
We both enjoyed Horatio; he was easy to like. I asked him dozens of questions. Though he was not an initiator, he always seemed open to talk about what we brought up, so we learned all about Horatio’s past: about being locked up three times and what got him there, about his young girlfriend, who also is his mother’s boyfriend’s daughter, bits about his family, glimpses of eighth grade. And though lots of it was dismal, I found myself sitting in the emotions of love and hope and possibility.
Horatio did leave us for a residential program. We encouraged him to make great choices from here on out, to embrace this as an opportunity to turn things around. I hope that he does. Regardless, I truly just loved the kid.
Days later I was sitting in my Grace Chapel Life Community Group. We were reading a passage from the Bible, Ephesians 2:1-10. And it resonated in my spirit, as we read it I saw how I looked at Horatio, “It wasn’t so long ago that you . . . let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat.”
I truly did not feel judgment for Horatio, he has not known a life other than the one he has led. When I looked at him, even though I knew what he had done, none of that mattered to me.
And then I felt an understanding of my own faith that I had never quite felt before. God sees me, sees you, as I saw Horatio. He sees the truth of who I am, and yet that is not the central truth about Horatio, about me, or about you. There is a greater truth about all of us, all of us are more than what we have done.
“Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” It is even when we are in that place of difficulty that God is already showing us his mercy, his grace. We are more than what we have done. Who we are is already enough.