What a difference a name makes

d7a74293-e884-4f32-a655-1d6bc4be4890The plight of teenagers who have run away from home without any resources and become homeless has come home to us in the form of one Miriam, who is the granddaughter of Tim and Cindy, MemberPartners of the Catch who live in Indiana. For the last few days we have had a Catch Alert out for Miriam because we have Catch readers all over the country and you never know how God might work to put one of them in Miriam’s path.

Miriam left her home in Virginia and ended up with grandparents in Kansas City, but has since left there with little or nothing but the clothes on her back — no money, cell phone, credit card or ID. When we heard there was a rumor she might be headed for Colorado or California, we called our good friend Robbie Goldman, head of Dry Bones, Denver, a team of people reaching out to the homeless kids in the downtown section of that city, to alert him to be on the lookout for Miriam. Robbie said an amazing thing. He said if she gets to Denver, there is a very strong chance they will find her.

How can he be so confident they will find Miriam in such a large city? What brings an 18-year-old from a loving family to do something like this? What kind of danger does a person like this face? What should we do if we rub up against someone like Miriam? What can we do, if anything? What kind of resources are there in other cities and towns across the country to help with kids like Miriam? These and other questions will be part of our interview with Robbie on BlogTalkRadio tonight at 6pm PDT. You will definitely want to hear this interview, and if you can’t listen tonight at 6pm PDT, you can go to blogtalkradio.com/thecatch any time after the show where you will find this, and all our shows over the past two years, as podcasts.

We’ve been sensitized by this one case to have our eyes open and our ears to the ground. If it were your child or grandchild, wouldn’t you want someone looking out for him/her? Together we make a pretty big team. What a difference a name makes. It’s no longer just a nameless invisible person; it might be Miriam, and that makes all the difference in the world.

This will mean, of course, stepping inside their shoes. What we as adults might perceive as a loving, supportive environment for an 18-year-old, might be perceived quite differently by the 18-year-old. You never really know what a young person — what anyone, for that matter — is thinking. That’s why we must get good at listening. I have a 17-year-old who perceives the world so differently from me that I sometimes think we’re not talking about the same planet. What is contained in his thinking is beyond my control. What is under my control is trying to find out, so I want to listen better; ask other people; read about his generation; do whatever I can to stand in his shoes and see the world through his eyes. What does the world look like to him? What do I look like to him? This is perhaps the biggest challenge of all in parenting/grandparenting. To not care about this is to run up the white flag on a generation gap. Most people do it, but do you really want to?

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4 Responses to What a difference a name makes

  1. Mark Seguin says:

    Dear Pastor John, u wrote: “.. do whatever I can to stand in his shoes and see the world through his eyes.” Great! I strongly suggest to consider reading Dr. Robert Rohm’s book the DISC Method of understanding personality types to help u…

  2. TimC in Oregon says:

    Been there, been doing this since 2012 when my 17 year old daughter left home. I’ve seen a few different reactions from Christians.
    1. Some Christian people assume that bad things like a child leaving home doesn’t happen to good people. Your daughter left home. Therefore you must be sinful. Therefore they will reject you. And if they see your daughter around town or if she needs help and comes back to church they will reject her and the baby she had because she got pregnant while living on the streets.
    2. Some Christian people assume that God provides all of the resources that you need in order to deal with the situation and therefore assume that you can handle this situation on your own.
    3. Some Christians have compassion for a difficult situation, but are so focused on having their own wonderful lives and exotic vacations that they can’t take time to look for ways to help. Either that or they assume that someone else will help.
    4. Some Christians will give you list of agencies to go check with.
    5. Some Christians will do whatever they can to help. Just kidding. I haven’t seen any of those.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    You will notice that the date on this is a couple weeks after the original post. It usually takes me a while to gather my thoughts, and by then it is usually long enough after that I don’t bother posting. But I decided to write this anyway even if no one else goes back and looks at the old comments.

    Yes, absolutely step into the other person’s shoes. As you say, “young person … anyone, for that matter”. The entire rest of that paragraph. That is a key, too, for the political divisiveness in our world. Listen to the other person, try to stand it their shoes and understand why they support and teach something that I find so perplexing or even hurtful. I confess I usually think of that when I wish someone else would listen. But as you say, that is not under my control. What is under my control is my own listening, doing whatever I can to stand in his shoes and see what the world looks like to him.

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