Life is so crazy – how one day, one minute, even one split second, and one interaction can change everything. Over the weekend a friend told me about a guy he’s befriended who’s hoping for parole. This prisoner was a good athlete, student, kid and had a manager’s job in his early 20s when he made one crazy stupid decision. Someone was killed as a result, and he’s now been in prison for over half his life, with no end in sight.
In a minute’s time, back in 1999, my wife made the decision to mentor Britney, an 8-year old girl. Brit’s parents had perhaps faced two or three of those split second decisions of their own – only they chose poorly. Britney ended up first homeless, then in foster care, motherless, and finally adopted by Sheila – a step-sister in Georgia whom she hardly knew. Sheila rose up heroically in her own moment of fate. Last week Jennifer flew to Atlanta and drove hours on the back roads of rural Georgia; and the three women – Jen, Sheila, and Britney – shared a celebratory moment, savoring Britney’s graduation from high school and enrollment in college.
My troika of stories ends with Bert and Monique – he a full-time lawyer and longtime little league coach and board member for the utterly awesome non-profit Think Detroit PAL, and she the executive director of a great eastside community service center called Franklin Wright Settlement. Parents themselves, with full-time and extra-curricular commitments to kids, for the last year or so they’ve been doing the real life version of The Blind Side. They welcomed a young man on the edge into their own home, treating him like their own.
“Just a minute, ” we say, often adding, “I’m busy here.” Just a minute. And just a minute can change everything: news of an accident, a doctor’s sober tone, a phone call from your kids or the school. I took a minute to visit a young friend in the Ingham County juvenile detention facility yesterday. I left with Michelle Obama’s words ringing in my head. I’ve heard her say about youth who are spiritually, socially, and emotionally needy: They didn’t choose to be born in dangerous neighborhoods, to have broken schools and a lack of role models. It’s up to us, she says, adults – not children- to make the difference in their lives.
I’ve always been fond of two lines from scripture. The first, often sung between readings, says: “If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts.” And it comes together with the other in which Jesus rests his hands on the shoulders of a small child before him and says, “Whoever welcomes a child like this one, in my name, welcomes me.” Busy as we all are, when we are awake to this kind of moment, we may find the most life(s)-changing opportunity to truly
Lead with your best self,