To the loved, a word of affection is a morsel; but to the love-starved, a word of affection can be a feast. –Max Lucado
Last night I had some time to spend with the officers at the Granbury Police Department, who work the evening patrol shift. Riding with them on a Friday night is really the best refresher course I can get in ministry. It is an opportunity to encounter all kinds of people in a variety of situations. I always learn something new. Unfortunately I am unable to share the best stories of the street, because of privacy. However there was an incident that took place last night that simply must disclose. I will simply change some of the details to protect everyone’s privacy.
We had a call involving a very troubled young person. As the officers scrambled to determine the best alternatives for her well being and safety, I took advantage of the time. I just struck up a conversation with her regarding her life today and events surrounding her formative years. If there is such a thing as a break in life, she has not been on the receiving end of very many of them.
Her story is one that involves abandonment by family, horrific sexual abuse, and extensive drug abuse. That is just the tip of the iceberg. There is more. The police were called to intervene last night, because the wheels had come off. The person I am describing had reached a point of no longer being able to function in the temporary setting, where she was living.
She has been on my mind all day. I am trying to figure out what I learned from that encounter last night. My list is not complete yet, but here is a start:
• I was reminded that I have roots to go back to in times of trouble.
I have both immediate and extended family who love me. I have loyal friends who care about me. This girl has none of those resources. Her mother literally abandoned her when she was relatively young. There is no father in the picture. I was reminded to be thankful for my roots.
• She is turned off by any hint of organized religion. (But she was respectful and cordial to me last night.) Her attitude was a reminder to me that the church must spend generous amounts of time where people really live.
• The officers I was with last night were kind and helpful. They went the extra mile to help her in ways that went well beyond what was required. I was reminded how great it is to serve with people that care. I think the young lady we were trying to help was touched and perhaps more than a little surprised that cops can have a heart.
• It occurred to me after that call that social programs, anti-depressants, and even counseling are not the sum total of help that people need. Young people in desperate situations like the one last night need mentors. They need adults who will take interest in them, give them a chance, and show them what love looks like. There is no shortage of loved starved people in need of a real feast.