(This is based on a true story told to me by a Chief Juvenile Probation Officer.)
~~He knelt down on his knees, looked up at Jesus on the cross, and shook his fist. “I hate you”, he said loudly, “I hate you.” He said it over and over. Soon he was screaming with every fiber of his being. Louder and louder, with more and more pent-up emotions streaming out of his voice. “I hate you! I HATE you! I HATE YOU!”~~
The boy had suffered emotional and verbal abuse from his mother since his birth. When his father was around, which wasn’t a lot, it was always the same song, second verse. He could count on one hand the times a physical beating for some slight or imagined offense hadn’t followed a visit with his father.Teachers at school always had a hard time with him. Even the kindest, most compassionate couldn’t crack the hard core he had fortified around a tender, broken heart.
He was well known from an early age to local authorities. The hands down bet was that he would be in prison by the age 18.
The boy was so distant, angry, hurt. He’d been caught repeatedly committing crimes, and as a juvenile, there wasn’t much he had hadn’t tried.
Over the years, a number of probation officers had turned their interests away from him toward other offenders thinking they couldn’t help him. This kid, this teenage boy, there was really nothing anyone could see to change the course of his predestined life of crime.
For his last breaking and entering charge, a church no less, the judge sentenced the boy to attend counseling with new counselor in town. The judge thought it was something to try, though it seemed futile, while the probation officer inwardly rolled his eyes at the sentence.
In the first counseling session, the teenage boy and counselor basically sat in silence for an hour. It was unnerving to the boy. He didn’t know what to do with quiet, especially safe silence with an adult.
The next session was basically the same, as was the third. By the fourth session, the boy began to feel somewhat safe in the sessions, although never, ever letting his guard down. Their hour of mostly silence, along with intense stares from the counselor who would sometimes rub his chin as if contemplating, was somehow an acceptance that the boy had seldom experienced in his 16 years of life.
At the end of the fifth session, the counselor quietly gave the boy clear instructions of what he was supposed to do. It was odd to the boy, but as a repeat juvenile offender, he was willing to do anything if it would get him out of his latest breaking and entering charge.
He was told to follow the instructions to a tee. Don’t leave anything out. Don’t add anything in.
The counselor told him that if he did exactly what he was told, he would only had one more appointment with him as a follow-up. After that, the counselor promised to sign his “adjudicated service” paper for the judge.
When the juvenile boy arrived at the church, the same one he had stolen from, he felt as if someone was watching him. The counselor had set up for the pastor of the formal church to meet him at the front door and let him inside. The pastor pointed to his office in another building to the right of the church and told the boy he would be in the office, if, and only if, he wanted to talk afterwards.
The boy, all alone, entered the church. Alone wasn’t unusual. He’d been alone most of his life. Somehow though, he didn’t feel alone right then.
He did exactly what the counselor told him. He walked to the front of the church, and faced the baptistry depiction of Jesus on the cross.
He knelt down on his knees, looked up at Jesus on the cross, and shook his fist. “I hate you”, he said loudly, “I hate you.” He said it over and over. Soon he was screaming with every fiber of his being. Louder and louder, with more and more pent-up emotions streaming out of his voice, “I hate you! I HATE you! I HATE YOU!”
Soon tears were trickling down his cheeks.
The more he shook his fist at Jesus on the cross, the more he screamed. The more he screamed, the more hurt boiled out of a nuclear cauldron of emotions of sadness, disappointments and pain.
Soon he was howling in anger and frustration. He continued to shake his fist and scream, “I hate you”, over and over and over.
He truly did hate Jesus. He hated himself for everything he had done. He hated his pain. He hated all that had happened to him. He hated the curse that some people called life. He hated, but not really. His hate was really just hurt.
Eventually the teenage boy, with no one around, sunk to the carpet sobbing uncontrollable tears in an emotional catharsis.
Curled up in the fetal position, he cried through years of built up agony. After a long while, he did something he had unknowingly learned from his counselor. He laid there in silence.
Curled up like a newborn baby, silence gave way to a whisper. He began whispering, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. I’m sorry”.
Eventually, the boy looked back at Jesus on the cross. He was way beyond what the counselor told him to do. He was on his own now.
With no energy left, the boy got back on his knees, stared up at Jesus, and raised both hands to the sky like a toddler reaching for his father.
“I’m sorry. Please help me,” was all he knew to say.
When he stood up, things hadn’t changed, but in someway, somehow, he had. He was different.
When walked outside the church, he stopped, turned right and began walking to the pastor’s office.