Last night our family, plus one, went bowling. Tee had been asking for a long time for a family game and we finally conceded. When I say finally, I mean it. I've been avoiding the family bowling night with Trey and any part of his family for years because, when they bowl, they mean business. When I bowl, I mean, well, not business. I slip in the shoes, drop the ball, and spend a lot of time in the gutter.
A kid who'd gone to camp, started and finished a few fights, and who's heart ultimately broke at the end of the week came over to Mercy Street yesterday to hang out with Trey. He's fifteen, with a great smile, hair-trigger temper, and a motel for a home. He came along with our family and, just between you and me, bowled worse than I did. He didn't care. He just laughed at himself, and the kids, and loved spending time with Dea and Darius who've walked in his shoes but found life beyond their circumstances. Or, more specifically, Life found them.
We laughed and high-fived and Dea won by a small margin and Trey took the loss like a man. A man who hates to lose at bowling.
At one point, the young man leaned over to me and said, "Mrs. Hill, can I live with ya'll for the rest of the summer?"
Trey, in wisdom that tempers my knee-jerk 'yesses', said no and later, drove him home. On the way, he asked again, "Mr. Trey, how long will Dea and Darius live with you?"
"I don't know, son, probably a couple more years."
"When they move out, can I move in?"
We could fill a dorm with kids who want out of their current situations. Who's parents aren't protecting them, loving them, simply parenting them. Some days, I want to build that dorm in my backyard because I want to fix it - fix them and their families and this whole community. Unfortunately, my ability to fix things is comparable to my ability to bowl and I slip and slide and drop the ball.
I found this on my friend Nicole's blog. As with most of her writing, it sang to my heart and reminded me that I'm not a repair-man and I can't fix it. I am a messy, awkward instrument in the hands of the perfectly skilled Father and in constant need of His great mercy.
"Mercy is a door. It is a portal through which we catch a glimpse of the heart of God. A gentle tug on our heartstrings draws us in. But soon we encounter brokenness so overwhelming that neither the tender-hearted nor the inventive problem-solver feel up to the task. Our solutions fall short. Pathologies are too deep, poverty too entrenched. And we descend into our own poverty, a poverty of spirit, a crisis of confidence in our own abilities to rescue. We are tempted to withdraw, to retreat to a more manageable world. Yet our hearts constrain us. Or our guilt. We feel trapped. And, like the broken, we find ourselves calling out to God for answers. When our best efforts have failed us, we are left with nothing to cling to but frail faith. In a strange twist of divine irony, those who would extend mercy discover that they themselves are in need of mercy." - Bob Lupton