Ladonald* is an angry young man. He has perfected the art of the scowl. From the moment he walks into Faith United until the time he leaves, the frown never leaves his handsome face. With every compliment, suggestion, comment, question or gentle correction I am met with a blank stare, averted eyes, or a turning of the back.
Mind you, he doesn’t limit his contempt of me to merely non-verbal cues. He is also very vocal so as to make doubly sure that I know that he doesn’t like me, need me, or want anything to do with me.
Two weeks ago, after a particularly rough afternoon with Ladonald, I felt that I had finally reached my limit. Fine, I thought, fine. You win. I’ll leave you alone. I won’t engage with you any longer, Ladonald. Everyday I try to reach you. I greet you at the door with a smile. I offer to help you with your homework. I give you verbal praises and behavioral prizes. Why won’t you just let me care about you? You don’t want my help? You don’t want encouragement? You don’t want my love? You push me away at every turn. Fine…I’m done.
The next day at PTM Staff meeting, we began our time together as we normally do with an inspirational quote or Bible verse. In this case it was one of the core beliefs of Preston Taylor Ministries, “God loves me unconditionally and invites me into a personal relationship made possible by Jesus’ death on the cross.”
It was a gentle rebuke, but a rebuke nonetheless. I chuckled to myself as the staff each began to reflect on the meaning of this core. “Kajsa…You do this to me all the time,” God rebuffed. “You push me away, you disobey, you argue with me, you don’t spend enough time with me. Do I ever leave you? Do I ever say, Kajsa, I’m done with you? Do I stop chasing you and reaching for you? In your darkest and angriest times, did I decide to abandon you? I love you unconditionally. I charge you to love my children unconditionally, as well. I put you here, at PTM, for the least of these…”
Touché, Lord, Touché. I’m back on track. Oh, and Ladonald? The Lord and I are not going anywhere.
*Student’s name has been changed.