Have you ever had an encounter that broke your heart, and changed your heart all in one? For a few weeks now I’ve been feeling really guilty about an encounter that took place in my life a few weeks ago. A few months ago our properties were broken into, and so for a few weeks I felt on edge, I felt like I was more aware of who was where and when…and one night a friend called (late in the evening) and asked if I could come over and as I was leaving there were two teenage boys I had never seen before just lurking around outside. They were watching my EVERY move, they disappeared around the corner and as I left they came back around, I immediately assumed that meant they were going to break into my house.
I quickly turned around and went back to my house, thinking I would just go back inside and pretend like I forgot something, but really I think that what happened next was exactly what God planned to happen. As I was backing into my spot, these boys approached my car, as I got out they asked if I had a phone, I told them yes and they asked if they could use it. At this point all that’s running through my head is they are going to take my phone and run… I will even admit that I was scared, what was happening to me the girl who trusts everyone, who were these boys and why did they want my phone?
It turns out they had confused my house with another popular house on the block, they called their friend, left a message for him and then begin to pour their teenage hearts out to me, (well after a lot of probing on my part) I find that they are 14 and 17 they are cousins, they deal drugs to support themselves. I learned about there they lives, their families, how long they’ve been dealing and what they like to do in their spare time. I learned that one of them dreams of going to college; the other doesn’t think he’ll make it to high school graduation, let alone college. I learned that neither of them have positive male role models in their lives, I learned they talked to me because I looked nice, and I learned that some of their best “buddies” are local boys who’ve stolen my heart.
As I am chatting with the boys, my phone rings, when I answer I hear, “Who this?” on the other end. I replied with “Ms. Colleen, who is this?” Then I heard, “Ms. Colleen like Ms. Coco the church lady, Ms. Colleen?” And then I saw the front door open, and there stood one of my favorite boys, and his exact words into the phone, were “Oh no, Ms. Colleen, you mad? You gonna rat us out? What you talking to my boys about?” He quickly hung up the phone and shuffled across the street to make sure that I was okay with his “boys” and then wanted to make sure I wasn’t mad at him. I quickly told him I wasn’t mad, and that in the almost two years that I have lived here when have I ever said anything about the life he chooses to lead, other than I wish Jesus was a part of it, and that I hope he sees the potential I see in him.
As the boys walked away from me, my heart was overwhelmed with so much emotion, sadness, confusion, happiness, hurt, and joy. It seems like a wide variety of emotion, but it was all-real, I was sad for these boys who as many other boys in my life feel that there is nothing better for them, confusion because why can’t they see what others see in them? Happiness because through all of my judgment God used those boys to change my heart, hurt because they are a babies and these streets are tough, my heart ached for them that night and every night since then. I drove to my friends house with tears in my eyes, I wanted to grab those boys and hug them tight knowing full well they probably haven’t been hugged in a while, I wanted to find them again, and remind them they are loved, I wanted to show them there IS something better for them.
Every night since I’ve encountered these boys I’ve prayed for them as I’ve gone to sleep, I’ve asked God to forgive me for judging them. I’ve prayed that we will cross paths again, I’ve prayed that God would strategically place strong men in their paths, that can and will show them there is something better. I’ve prayed for their protection and safety and that wherever they might find themselves, they will know that there’s always a safe place a door knock away.
This encounter has made me really think about how I view people around me, I try so hard not to judge people, but after this I realized sometimes I do it without even thinking about it, and who am I to judge others? It clearly tells us in the bible that we should not judge by appearance, but judge with right judgment (John 7:24). My heart has been so full of judgment, so I am challenging myself to get to know people before judging them, this I know is going to be hard, it’s like we’ve been wired to judge people completely based on their appearance and action, but I want to be more like Jesus in all of my interactions.
This morning as I popped a random CD into the player in my car, and the song Won’t you be My Love came on by Mercy Me, and it spoke directly to my heart, it was almost as if Jesus was talking straight to me, this particular part to the song reminds me of what we are called to do as Christ followers and how often I (we) fall short….
Won’t you be My voice calling
Won’t you be My hands healing
Won’t you be My feet walking into a broken world
Won’t you be My chain-breaker
Won’t you be My peacemaker
Won’t you be My hope and joy
Won’t you be My Love
We are called to love without judgment (as hard as it is), we’re called to share the love of Christ using our hands, feet and voices, we’re called to be love, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends,” (John 15:9-13).
I am so excited about how my eyes have been open to a sin that I’ve held onto, and one I am ready to let go of! I am so excited about how my eyes will see things differently when I am not judging people based on appearances and actions.
Will you join me this week in praying for these sweet boys? Praying for their hearts, their lives, and for strong men of God to be placed in their paths and I will pray for each of you that God will give you a wake-up moment, where something that needs to change in your life will become so evident that it fills your heart and mind, and convicts you to the core.