Back to the book. There is a section that discusses the "social gospel" and how many people are afraid of that term. He brings up the fact that many people don't want to call it the social gospel because then they would have to admit that being a christian is about more than just being holy but also about serving the poor and bringing justice to God's kindom. He says that he doesn't understand why everyone is arguing because and I quote,
"Compassion is an overflow of the gospel - The Good News of Christ's sacrifice. Compassion says we have embraced the relationship with God through Christ. It's not that we have to earn our salvation by doing good things, but compassion and service flow out of us because we are filled with God's love. If we don't take care of orphans and widows, if we don't care for the poor and hurting, how can we say we belong to Jesus?"
I read this at a perfect time today as I was struggling with thinking through all my interactions with kids this week. It was a rough week. The Chaplain was gone to a conference and I was on my own and of course lots of unexpected things came up. I got stressed for about the first time since I have been here and I know it did not help some interactions I had with kids. I became very self-aware of that yesterday and realized I just will not be able to do everything this week, and that is going to have to be ok. My "honeymoon" period with the kids is starting to wear off and some kids are getting mad at me for things. But in many ways its showing that they appreciate that I will put up with them and love them unconditionally. They just have to test that to see if I will keep following through. This is an extremely challenging population to work with and I am realizing that more each and every day. It doesn't make me want to stop by any means, it just makes me want to forge ahead but also make sure I am aware of myself and take time to reflect and re-evaluate.
I had some 1st time experiences this week that scared me a little or just rocked me. (A friend of mine commented recently that all my blog entries are "happy"..well here is one that isn't so much). I tell you these stories because I want you to know about my experiences, not to scare you, not to make you have pity on me or these kids, I just want you to realize how much I love them and how much we all need to fight for justice for them.
This week, I had a kid tell me he wanted to kill himself and then proceed to try to drink a bottle of soap. Then the same kid tried to strangle another kid with a phone cord. Another kid tried to break a window for 30 minutes straight with his fists. A few kids told me they hated me and hoped I died. They tested me all week. It was hard I'm not going to lie...there were times I wanted to run away and cry. But somehow I gained the strength I needed to get through those times and still love those kids unconditionally.
These kids are the modern day "orphans". We MUST love them unconditionally. We MUST or we need to seriously consider if we truly can say we belong to Jesus. We MUST care for the hurting, because they are ALL AROUND us. You might not have 60+ kids with mental, emotional and behavioral problems. But I bet you have someone in your workplace, group of friends, school, or family that is hurting. I am sure you have people in your community that are hurting. I am sure there are many marginalized communities you can work with to help bring about justice for them. I urge you to consider each day if you are being mindful or talking to someone that is hurting, where you can say I belong to Jesus and truly feel right about saying it.
I am saying all this to reflect on my week, to tell myself I need to do all these things. Things are not always easy, and I am pretty sure after work today I am probably going to have a little bit of a crying party to just get out my emotions of the week. But when I take a step back and look at it all...I am just learning to love these kids unconditionally and that is not something you just pick up on quickly...it's a process.