Friday, January 30, 2015

Love in action

Here's a little story, a true one. It's not mine but I can't resist telling it because it's so good.

My younger daughter lives with a woman who is the area director for Young Life in the East Bay--that is, Oakland, California. She (and my daughter) is a Caucasian woman of privilege working with a diverse population of teens markedly without privilege. I'm not saying CJ comes from money, no more than SK does. Or I do. But our lives have afforded us opportunities because of skin color. That's something I didn't realize until recently. But CJ did. CJ has always had a rather instinctive understanding of her privilege, and the disadvantage of others. She's always seen the gospel as the great leveler, always known that what she wanted was to live and work and have her being among those who didn't have because that's exactly what Christ did.

It hasn't always been easy going, the way CJ's chosen to live her life, to serve her kids--to LOVE them.  She walked into their world by herself at first, and there she was, a white woman, among teens of many other hues. The suspicions were high--among the kids, among the adults in those kids' lives, among the neighborhoods where she dared to drive. But she's a few years in now and has built a team. Sometimes it's easier for CJ now. People know her, call her by name (or initials!). They welcome her into their homes. But her work is hard. For example, she sent kids to Beyond Malibu last summer, and had to find packs, boots, all the necessary supplies for these kids who'd never left the streets of Oakland before. It was sweaty work getting it all together. That's not including convincing these inner city kids that it'd be the best week they'd ever have to go climb mountains and sleep in tents in the wilderness. Tough, sweaty work in that, too.

But here's the thing: for all her work (which she LOVES), sometimes CJ just runs into a wall with a kid. Last fall one young teen decided she hated CJ. HATED her. Wasn't just mad at her, but actually hated her. It was difficult and painful and divisive for the whole group, because the teen didn't stop attending just stood on a side each club meeting and talked about how terrible, how hateful CJ is. How prejudiced CJ is, which, as SK said, was the most crazy thing she said, since CJ is CJ and could teach the rest of the world a thing or twenty any day of the week. She's taught this old dog (me!) a couple of those things in the time I've known her about shedding my white privilege and living like a human being with other human beings, however I find them and being more aware of how I treat them. Yes, I've learned from this young woman. So to call HER hateful and prejudiced? Not from here to eternity will she be that.

Anyway, this hate mongering (because that's exactly what it was)went on the entire fall.
Until this week, actually.
This week, this teen called CJ, said she wants to go to winter camp and wanted to do a fundraiser so she could. CJ made that happen. She picked up this teen (with a couple friends) and when they got into the car, the teen said, "I think I've been a little rude to you the last few months."
CJ thought, 'A little?' but said, "That's okay."
The teen said, "I don't know why I've been so mad at you."
They talked a little longer about it, then the teen said this,
"No matter what I did, this crazy white girl wouldn't stop loving me."

Think about that statement for a moment, "No matter what I did, she wouldn't stop loving me."
That's it. That's the WHOLE gospel right there. CJ living out the gospel. This teen hating and hating and hating, and still love was given to her in return.

I have been saying that phrase in my head since last night when SK told me the story. I can't get over it. This teenager just shared the gospel and didn't even know. She saw love in action--that is, Jesus Christin action. I'm proud of CJ, but not surprised. The Holy Spirit governs her life and work. To Him be the glory.


Susie - Recovering Church Lady said...

Yes! What a wonderful and powerful story! And so timely, right? Love love love, it really IS our only

Pamela M. Steiner said...

Yes, that IS the gospel exactly. Exactly what Jesus did for us...just kept on loving us even when we were so rude to Him. Praise God He never gave up on us! Love this story. A good reminder to keep on loving the tough ones even when we'd probably rather not. God doesn't give up on us, so neither should we. Good story today.