We went to the same high school. (Garfield!)
When I was a senior, he was a freshman. I asked if he knew my sisters, but he couldn't recollect them. That doesn't surprise me. I imagine we were on two very different tracks. I took honors courses in preparation for college, he wrestled with anger and most likely spent more time suspended than active in school.
He's still working on his GED.
But today he's working at the Front Porch. The plumbing has backed up and we needed some extra help with deconstruction to access some pipes.
He confided in me yesterday that he was stressed. He had a meeting with his Parole Officer, and was worried he would be sent to a half-way house if his present living situation was found…unsatisfactory.
Two things, stirred within me: compassion and heroism. I felt compassionate for this young man who was striving to do right yet had few venues to succeed. I felt the need to do something good and validate myself as well. A dangerous combination.
In the past, this combination may have resulted in an invitation: come live with me. Move into Bachtel Avenue and we can help you out, but I no longer live on Bachtel. I have moved out in preparation for my wedding and no longer have the right to simply invite transient neighbors into that house. (And my new house was a non-option).
So I prayed.
And prayer was the sum of what I could do. I do recognize that in the grande scheme South Street has pastored, served, esteemed, and connected this young man, however I know that ultimately God changes his life and course. And whether I am able to house this young man or not, God will see him through.
In my quest for validation, prayer becomes secondary. However, God will limit our capacity (or reveal our inadequacy) at times to force us to rely on His power, His hand, His faith.
The same is true of our 15 Year Anniversary on March 9th. Bob Lupton, a 35 year seasoned urban developer. Duane Crabbs, founder of South Street 15 years ago. Ward Councilman. Graphic designers. PR Representatives. Seasoned Neighbors. Akron businessmen and women…
And me. Among so many professionals, veterans, or neighborhood heads, my inadequacies become apparent. My limited capacity revealed. So I pray.
I pray that God blesses South Street for another 15 years and enables me to serve as a leader there.
I pray for South Akron and Summit Lake, that renewal and development (coupled with justice and mercy) will happen here.
I pray for young men like the one above, that God (through His people) will make away for them to work, live, and thrive despite past mistakes.
I pray, and God hears.
Grace and peace