Heart Breaking. Soul Weeping. Mind Reeling. Knees Bending.Posted: Monday, January 23, 2012
My heart is breaking. My soul is weeping. My mind is reeling. I don’t understand. But, my knees are bending. And I have a pile of used up tissues beside my chair.
Almost 7 years ago, I moved into Southern Barton Heights in Richmond, VA. I knew life would never be the same. From the get-go, I fell in love with the neighborhood. Especially the kids. Literally, from the first weekend after I moved in, I met a bunch of the kids. After that, they were over all the time. I loved it. I never went anywhere alone….one of the kiddos was always with me. We watched sports together. Yeah…me. I watched sports and pretended to enjoy them. We went to the grocery store together. And cooked together. And played together. We did life together. They were often at church with me….and always at youth group and retreats. We talked about virtually everything! They were and still are…Miss Marti’s Kids.
But…over time…some of the kids moved to other parts of the city. And, now most are grown. Thanks to Facebook, we are able to reconnect. Some are…graduating from high school. Going to college. Or..in some cases, ending up in juvy. Today, one, now an 18-year-old young man, was arrested, along with 2 of his friends, for First Degree murder of 16 year-old Brett Wells in Mechanicsville, VA. People would always tell me….”Marti – You can’t save them all.” My response was “I can’t save any of them. But, my God can. If the kids will remember what it felt like to be loved. If they can remember God’s unconditional love, while they are laying on the cot. That’s all I can ask for.”
That response is really being put to the test this evening. Why CAN’T I save them? What else could I have done? What could I have said? Why does it have to be this way? Those are some of the many questions that roll through my mind as I weep over our city and for our youth. I know the standard responses….”You did all you could.” “You loved those boys like your own.” I know. I know. I know. But, I ask myself those same questions just like any parent would.
One of the 8 Core Principles of Christian Community Development is relocation. Through my relocation – living in this community – the community’s assets are now my assets. But, the community’s challenges have also become my own challenges. Today….that is even more evident than ever. I can’t go into my home and go about life pretending like this hasn’t impacted me personally. I can’t ignore the fact that it has impacted my community, the Mechanicsville community, my church, and the rest of Miss Marti’s Kids.
No one said this would be easy. No one said it would be “happy, happy, joy, joy”. This world is broken. This world is fallen. And frankly, it sucks. Big time.
For those who have seen the news, it isn’t a black/white thing. It’s not a suburban/urban thing. It’s not the “boys from the ‘hood” murdering a 16-year-old in the white suburban community thing. It’s not that simple….at all.
But, it IS a tragic thing. Our youth need us. They need us in the counties and in the city! This is such a complex issue. It’s not a time to point fingers. It’s not a time to say “they” should take care of this. “They” meaning the government, the schools, the parents, the non-profits. It’s a time to say WE should take care of this. WE means each and every one of us.
I know people who know and love the victim and his family. I know and love one of the 3 guys…love him like he’s my own. How can I make sense of it all? How do we comfort the parents who lost their 16-year-old son? How do we comfort the mom who could lose her 18-year-old son to prison? How do we keep drugs and guns off the streets? How do we comfort the friends of both? How do we help the youth of our metro area?
How, we might ask? It’s obviously not a simple answer…or we would have done it by now. But, let’s see what the Lord has to say on the topic. The answer may be different for each of us. As for me….I’m gonna be on my knees. Please join me in praying for our youth and young adults. They need us on our knees. On my knees. God help us.