Sunday, September 10, 2006

Jennifer's quinceañera

Everybody likes to feel that someone believes in them, in their potential to become better people, and their inbuilt goodness. But for those of us who do the believing, at what point does our faith become naïve, deserving of ridicule? How many steps backward does a person have to take for it to be foolish to keep cheering for them to win the race? To even make it to the finish line? It was quite the experience last night: a quinceañera party consists of the parents pushing their a 15 year old chick out of the nest for the sharks to devour (pardon the mixing of the metaphors). Jennifer is a girl I have known since she was a little 5 year old kindergartener in our school. Welcome to the world of adults, Jenny, and what a world it is. The party crashers that come upstairs when the booze does. The many-membered dysfunctional extended family lurking around every corner. The brothers: Jonatan (sells drugs) making some business acress the street, Julían taking the beers across to enjoy with his friends(then his face when he turned to see me watching him). Dad says to me "Is it worth it?". I think of Jesus, how long would he still believe in those boys? All of them, Jonatan, Julian, and Gerald, Gabriel, Roca, Javico, Chamo and Junior that were across the road from us. How long would he believe in the beauty of their futures, in the purity of their souls? To the point of naivety? To the point of deserving ridicule? Rebecca, who I'm sitting with, sees them out on the street and says"Oh, there go those gang-members again"…I protest and and she realizes I'm listening…"Oh, sorry, I forgot they are your little friends"…disdain. But look at her forearms, thin scab lines up and down, evidence of shallow surface cuts with a razor blade, almost beautifully arranged in patterns, displayed as grotesque flags to lure in concerned attention. Or pitiful attention. Or any attention. Anything!! We are all messes. We are all broken, stumbling, looking for missing parts of ourselves, so desperate we will never find anything, so scared nothing more exists. We are all so weak, so easily influenced by false leads, easily manipulated by hints of false affection. Looking forward to the weekend high, the anticipation of that moment of rebellion makes the parents crap easier to bear during the week. The safety of that group that sells their conscience for selfishness: drugs can own a lonely person. Surface cuts in a visible location, suicide jokes and a sleeveless dress tells me "Somebody be with me, my own company is driving me mad, please just talk to me for a bit and fill my mind". We have no damn clue what Jesus would do. Are they ever going to change? Are they ever going to overcome their own selves and become givers to the well-being of humanity, instead of always takers? Are they going to survive? We love them. I want to answer YES to all those questions, but I don't know the future. I want to be there for those guys, no matter how many times they break my heart, no matter how far they descend into their negative habits, their self-destruction. They are not proud of this. They do not love themselves. They are not happy. But they are getting worse. They are not getting better. They are lost in a maze and making all the wrong turns. I feel ridiculous. I feel naïve. But I don't think there is any other path for me, any other burden to bear. I can not give up on them. I have to believe in them, beyond logic, beyond what people in Bastión consider rational. "Gang-members, drug addicts, street dwellers, thiefs, good for nothing" But what about "gossip, prideful, fibber". What about "Glutton, selfish, corrupt"… "Hateful, jealous, short-tempered"… "Flirty, violent, crazed"…What about this: I am flawed, I am lost. I am scared, just as scared as they are that nothing more exists, but I've had more reassurances along the way. I've had more positive voices, telling me yes, there is hope, there is more. I've been so lucky. It's unfair, but that is a dead-end to wonder about. I have to follow this path. I have to believe they are worth believing in, because I have to believe Jesus still believes in me.

4 comments:

Polythene Pam said...

OH Beth! My heart aches for you, for them. And I'm up here - swimming in the concerns of the priveledged like "why don't wheaton college students date" and "why can't I afford that mocha?" Beth I want to do something for you guys, but there's nothing I can do (except pray, and I will). I want to let this world know that your world is very real and in need - but they just get fidgety and don't want to talk about it. And I? I just sound self-rightous. And I am. But those boys! Oh those boys! You can't give up Beth. What would they have if you gave up? I'll pray for you guys. I love you and I love your people. I miss being with you.

Jerry said...

Damn, good luck...

The sad thing is -- you can't save everybody. You can't save the world. It's hard enough just saving yourself.

But, if you can save even just one person -- then, yes it was worth it. By God, yes it is.

God bless Bethany, and keep on fighting.

JGH

Kent said...

Bethany,

I know I hit a point a few years ago where I was so disgusted with my own flaws that I decided that maybe I was too much of a mess for God to redeem. God gently but powerfully showed me that deciding I was too much of a project for him was a very foolish underestimation of his power and goodness. I decided then that it is just further proof of how great God is that he can use someone like me.

May God bless you. May God bless the people of Bastion. And may God bless us all!

Kent

Janna said...

hey, I love you Beth...