Today I went to visit a teen guy who presents a pretty tough facade. He has only come to Contact a handful of times, and those times were all about life on his terms. One of his first visits was at a basketball fellowship time with the teen boys. I laid out the rules of conduct for how we as guys need to respect each other. He came up to me after my talk when all the guys had cleared out from signing the contract of conduct. He felt like I was looking at him the whole time. I knew then that this guy had been judged before by people in authority and that this could be a rough relationship as he carried a chip on his shoulder.
Today we talked outside of his home on the small concrete slab of a front porch. We chatted for a while, and then he asked if I have a daughter. He then asked if I cried when she was born. I don't remember crying per se, but I do remember being close to it with all of the joy in the moment. He asked if my wife Sarah cried. Yep. He said, "That's dumb to cry about that." My knee jerk response was to give him the three point sermon about why he was wrong. I just said that crying is not a right or a wrong thing, not even a dumb thing. He said that he doesn't cry. He just holds in the anger and started to explain that this is probably why he feels so angry. He caught himself in the midst of this and went back to making rude comments. He made rude comments about stuff in which he knew nothing. He wanted to get a rise out of me, and with the Lord's grace, I didn't take the bait. He had felt uncomfortable letting his guard down, if even for a moment. I told him that I realize it's hard being uncomfortable talking about stuff on the inside, but he wasn't having anymore of that being vulnerable stuff.
He told me not to come back to his house anymore, that I was of no benefit to him. As I left him, I said, "I love you, man." He turned around and asked, "Are you gay?" I just said "no" and left the premises.
As I reflected on my drive back to Contact, I realized that this guy was throwing out at me all of the ugly stuff that he could muster. He wanted to see if I would beat him down, if I would judge him, if I would let him know that his hurt and anger was too ugly to look at. The ugliness coming out is a sign of the "ugliness" that he sees in himself--"Could God really love me as I am?" When I go to see him next time, I'll let him know.