Well it got me thinking...
I have learned so much from my time in Uganda and especially from the boys. So I am feeling like everything I need to know, I learned from boys on the street. Here are a few that came to mind. Hope you enjoy!
- Everyone deserves a chance. No matter how wild, out of control, bad mannered, disrespectful, mean, hard, ..., someone is, he deserves a chance. A lot of times, most of the time, he will surprise you. I can't tell you how many times these boys have been written off as worthless, stupid, bad, unchangeable, incapable of love, undeserving of love, and incapable of amounting to anything. It isn't true. They are changing before my eyes. They just need love, patience, and encouragement. Maybe that is all that person you are thinking of right now needs too.
- Love is enough. A lot of times, ok most times, I have no clue what I am doing. I don't know if it will work, if it is a good idea, if it is crazy, or if it will make a difference. I say the wrong things to the kids all the time, we get angry at each other. Generally, we are a mess. It is one big trial and error. In complete chaos, what keeps us coming back? Simple. LOVE. I love those kids more than anything and they know it. When we mess up, love helps us to apologize and forgive. It makes us want the best for us all. It heals our hurts. It helps us to put others first. When ever I am having a bad day, frustrated with everything, and ready to give up, I will hear one of their voices tell me they love me and it is enough. To know I am so undeserving of their love, but they give it freely keeps me going. It makes me know everything will be ok. We will be ok.
- Miracles happen. You don't hear so much about modern day miracles. It seems like most people(myself included) feel like healings and miracles were left to the Bible. But, Jesus is still performing miracles and if you look, you will see them. I have witnessed transformations that I never thought could happen. Only explanation? Miracle. We have been without food and money and not sure where we were going to get food for the next month. But we did. How? Miracle. I have been praying asking God for confirmation. The doorbell rang seconds later with the mailman delivering my confirmation. Miracle. Boys whose families said they didn't want them, have welcomed them home with open arms and happy celebrations. Miracle. God is still a God of miracles. Jesus still heals. He still performs miracles.
- You don't know what has happened, so always be kind. When the boys are on the streets, you can imagine what has happened to them, but they rarely tell the truth. Maybe it is because they are ashamed, maybe because it is too painful to remember, maybe it is just because it is personal and they don't want to share. Sometimes you can tell the kids are sad and heartbroken. Sometimes they seem happy and joyful. Just because they are happy and joyful doesn't mean that they aren't hurting. Just because they are acting out, doesn't mean they are a bad kid. Knowing them has reminded me that you never know someone's story, and so it is best to always treat people with kindness. Maybe they are mean and hurtful because they are so afraid of being hurt again, they just want to make sure no one gets too close. Maybe they push you away because they have never been loved before and the idea scares them. You just never know. Maybe that really mean, grouchy person you are thinking of right now, is just really hurting and your kind words could make a difference.
- Kids are kids, everywhere. Just the other day, I was reading something about kids and thought, "Hey, the boys do that." It dawned on me, kids are kids no matter where they live. They have good days and bad. Some days they never want to leave your side, others they want to be as far away as possible. They love to play and laugh and do silly things. They are imaginative, resourceful, and creative. They have an innocence to them, even when people have robbed them of it. They need love and affirmation and good role models. They need to be reassured of their place in this world and their worth. It doesn't matter if I am talking about the boys in Uganda or in Antarctica, boys are boys. Kids are kids.
- Don't judge what's on the outside. When you look at a boy on the street, you see a dirty, scrappy little mess. Maybe shoes, maybe barefoot, mismatched and missized clothes. Probably covered in dirt, grease, or oil. Maybe high. On the outside, they look a mess. They look like you might want to cross the street or hold your purse and bags a little bit tighter if they are walking towards you. But on the inside...They can be some of the best kids you will ever meet in your life. So kind, so generous, so joyful, so loving. I can't count how many times a boy insisted I share his one meal of the day with him, or the time a boy took off his shoe for an aunt because hers broke and he didn't want her walking barefoot, or how they will help with anything you ask. It is true, you can't judge a book by its cover. These kids have taught me to look deeper than what is on the outside.