Sometimes we don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone. The grass is always greener. Cliches? Yes. But true all the same. Sometimes it takes losing a great opportunity, to show us just how great it was. Sometimes being around people that don’t care about our well-being makes us understand just how much the people that love us want the best for us. Just ask William.
William came to Shadow with a world of problems. None his doing. He was raised with little to no supervision, structure, or responsibility. He was allowed to run the streets, run his mouth, and run the home. He had to. Mom was rarely there. When she was, she conceded to William. At 10 years old he was in charge. He called the shots. He was boss. Some might think he was spoiled. Some might think he was strong-willed. Some might think he was manipulative. It’s possible he was all three. But as for me, I just think he was scared.
He was scared of being alone, so he showed his independence. He was scared of being unworthy, so he took authority. He was scared of being forgotten, so he made sure you remembered. He was scared of being loved, so he became unlovable. If he was unlovable, then he couldn’t be hurt. If he was tough, then life would be easier. If he became the authority, then he could control his circumstances. If he was independent, then others couldn’t let him down. So instead of turning to God, he turned to the streets.
The streets provided an education that he couldn’t get in any school. School didn’t teach him how to steal. It didn’t teach him how to hustle, fight, or survive. So he told his mother that he wasn’t going back to school – and he didn’t. He didn’t need teachers telling him what to do and he didn’t need them nagging at him to do his work, pay attention, and be nice to others. And he certainly didn’t need them caring. Caring allowed feeling and feeling allowed vulnerability. He could do without those things. They were too complicated.
As he ran the streets he developed a reputation. People noticed him. They noticed that he wasn’t in school, they noticed that he wasn’t supervised, and they notice that he needed help. The police were called and William was taken in. His world of self-preservation and freedom were about to end. But not without a fight. He gave in to his new situation, not because he wanted to, but because he had no choice. This did not stop him though. He was still his own boss, and everyone at Shadow was about to find out.
His first day at Shadow was spent not adapting to a new life of love and care, but assessing how easily an escape was. He measured how high the fence was, how sharp the razor. He determined that he could outrun the gate guard, but was afraid of his machete. He was determined that his stay would be short. And it was. After constant fighting and bullying his time wore thin. Making shivs and trouble put the others in danger. The judge gave him chances, as did his parents and administration. But the boy who called his own shots would not change.
William was a dangerous boy. And perhaps still is. But recently a staff worker ran in to him at a government home, where he was transferred. When he saw her, the unlovable little boy ran to her and nearly knocked her over with his hug. He told her that he missed everyone at Shadow and that he appreciates all that was done for him. He remembered what he was taught about Jesus. Instead of making trouble, he’s making changes. Instead of making weapons, he’s making amends. He said that he’s accepted our Savior and is reading the Bible. The boy from the streets, will someday walk streets made of gold.