Finding Him In The Hard Places.
Where were you when I needed you? Where were you when my life was falling apart. Where were you when I was hurting? Where were you when I was lost and confused? I looked for You everywhere. Did you abandon me? Is it too late now? So many questions.
In the silence. On the lake, canoeing to outer islands in the middle of the Canadian wilderness. Sitting in a field of wildflowers next to rapids. Listening to the water rushing and flowing, I started to hear You. I started to feel you there. I started to soften to you. Slowly and very guarded I started to soften. This the point in the story where God started to pursue my heart. It was not going to be a short pursuit. https://youtu.be/aNKsG9kREqA
I always knew that there was a God. I believed that my grandma and grandpa Shepherd knew the truth. You couldn’t be around those people and not see God in them. Even I could not convince myself there is no God. In Canada I felt him there with me. I just wanted more. I had a pouring in of the noise and consistency I had always needed. The staff I dealt with were sincere and solid. There are too many to name them. Let me tell you something – I didn’t have to have someone tell me, these people, were real. These people at this camp were not the the happy hypocrites I had dealt with that were all smiles and prayers and songs. These people were hard like me, but smoothed over by allowing the contestant love of God to soften them and responding to the desire to help some messed up kids.
Philippians 1:6 New International Version (NIV)
6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. https://www.biblegateway.com
Where to start looking…
- Listen to inspiring music. This is probably my most effective way to be moved.
- Make time to be alone.
- Go outside to somewhere peaceful and quiet and be quiet. Listen and breath. Run. Get angry.
- Read something inspiring. Read the bible. Or just Google passages about a topic if you don’t know where to look in the Bible. “Verses about sadness.”
- Write: poetry, letters, stories, feelings, whatever you like.
- Pray. Own your part. There’s no better way to get to where God is than to tell Him what he already knows. When you’re estranged from a person and you want to repair the relationship, you call them and apologize for your part and ask them to give you another change. You ask them to talk things through. They don’t always open right back up to you and restore the relationship without some work on your part.
- Go to a group, find some like-minded friends and meet with them regularly. He shows up.https://youtu.be/3dXN1ijsrZo
I was not a special snowflake, and neither are you.
I could not be angry and resentful of them. Even though they were the ones pushing me to a place of vulnerability and reality that I had never been before. Everything was clearer. Everything made a little more sense. Do you know why? Because there was no excuses anymore. There was only accountability and natural consequences. There were no guilt trips. There was no manipulation and self-pity for me because I was special; because my dad was in jail. Because poor me, I act out. No one cared.
I can see that not everyone responds the same to correction and military style discipline and this style could be very difficult for some to see the positives in. However, having been arrested in the past, allow me to shed some light. They never asked me my preference on how I would like to be handled and how I would respond best. So to those who say it was too harsh, I say to you; guess what, you are not a special snowflake either. No one cares and if you want to act like an asshole, you’ll likely get treated like one, just like I did. Hence the “natural consequences”…
Was All This Really Necessary? Yeah.
I’ll have to address it at some point, now is as good a time as any. Many people say there was rampant abuse at New Horizons. There are internet sites and Facebook groups about it. The intense work times, the emotional aspect of the discipline, the physical exhaustion. I get it. I was never at the school in the Dominican, which I heard in Canada was the next level in escalation; meant for the baddest of the bad and the flight risks. I can only speak to my own experiences and what I personally witnessed. I never saw a staff member go to far or lose control. I would never say that i could not have happened to someone else at some other time, but for the 18 months I was at New Horizons, it never happened to me or in my presence. The whole point of this program was to tear you down, to break down every wall, take sand paper to ever rough place and make it smooth. Then build you back up again so you can be a solid, functional human being.
There were many many children there who had a much less part in their “sentence” than I did. There were kids that were chronically abused, passed from foster home to foster home, discarded, wards of the state. Unwanted. Did they deserve to be subjected to such drastic measures, hard work and punishment when their lives were already so hard? Probably not. The thing is, none of those kids were saints. Some hid their issues better than others and were more compliant. They weren’t the kids I’m referencing above though. Every kid there deserved love and support and to be treated fairly. That is what I saw occur. Behavior was responded to with consequences. That’s how real life works, just not as quickly and clearly as it happened in “the program”.
Jeremiah 29:12-14 English Standard Version (ESV)
12 “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” https://www.biblegateway.com/