This article tells the story of a Maricopa County public defender and offers a unique justice-and-grace-filled perspective. An excerpt from the article:
“My job is so much about just putting bandaids on what’s already broken. There’s so much prevention that should have been done but, instead, they’re here,” she says, citing specifically the need to help kids realize their actions have consequences.
“If we can teach kids impulse control, that’s huge for keeping them out of prison,” she says.
The clients she describes could be any number of youth who come to Aim Right on a weekly basis. There are some significant cards stacked against them — incarcerated family members, living in the “ghetto” (a teen’s description, not mine), poverty, easy access to drugs, little accountability and stability.
It saddened me greatly when I heard a teen comment recently, “I don’t think I will live very long. I think I will die young.” When there’s shootings on your street, and violence embedded deeply in your family tree, that’s not just morbid thinking; it’s a grim reality. There was sad news this week, too, of a teen we know who is incarcerated — again — likely for a very serious offense this time.
Caleb shared a great truth with youth at Friday’s Teen Night. It was this:
“You cannot stay where you are and go with God.”
The two verbs are opposites; you can choose to stay or go, but you simply cannot stay and go at the same time. Your direction in life is a choice.
C.S. Lewis said, “Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.”
Isn’t it our oft-repeated human story that we aren’t too good at distinguishing the mud pies from the holiday at the sea? The this-is-temporal-rubbish from the this-has-eternal-value?
I’ve read that impoverished mothers in Haiti actually make “cookies” out of dirt for their children to eat; it alleviates some of their hunger pangs until they have enough money to buy real food and, I suppose, gives some of the sense of eating a meal.
Those children are malnourished, under-fed, starving, because the mud doesn’t satisfy.
The public defender said that kids need to realize that their actions have consequences. I’m thankful for a place like Aim Right where God has given us opportunities to speak to youth about their choices, to point out the difference between the mud pies and the holiday at the sea, and to tell them about the One who offers them hope and a future.