Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Borderline Juvenile Delinquents

I don’t recall ever having any serious discussions about future career plans with my friends when I was in high school.  I do recall joking around that I was going to be a billionaire and live on a yacht. That thought of course remained a joke.  And I also distinctly remember standing behind a podium in the speech and debate classroom and mimicking a preacher.  My friends called me “Brother John.”  The content of my so called “sermons” was beyond irreverent.  There are some things that it just not too wise to tease about.  I was given a divine lesson there! Who would have ever thought? 

Those of us that traveled together on the speech and debate team at Monterey High School in Lubbock from 1978-1982 were mischievous, close knit, and at times downright crazy. Some of us were borderline delinquent. Other teammates served as a collective conscience. But our loyalty to each other was unquestioned.  Time has proven that to be true.  After over thirty years, most of still communicate with each other on a very regular basis.

There really were no earnest exchanges about career goals.  But my friends and fellow teammates have all done very well. Several are working in various facets of the business world.  One teammate owns a business in New York City and another one is a sales manager for a large auto dealership here in Texas.  Still another teammate is an engineer for NASA. The list could go on. 

What I find interesting is that several of us have been given the opportunity in our professions to reach out to teenagers that are mischievous, crazy, and fully delinquent. Paula has been teaching for over 22 years.  She has the gift of influencing  kids that are living on the edge for a variety of reasons. I know for a fact those students are highly unlikely to do anything that Paula did not do, or that I did not incite her to do back in the ‘70’s. As a minister and as a law enforcement chaplain, I am privileged to work with kids that are troubled in every imaginable way.  And then there is Ruben. 

Ruben has been the missing link for a long time now. Most of us found each other via facebook or a class reunion a long time ago. We have worried about him for years. We all wondered what happened to Ruben.  Last week I found out. 

  Out of the blue he sent me an email that touched me to me to no end.  Ruben is fine. He is married and has a wonderful son.  He is a successful attorney.  And he too is in a profession that is reaching out to kids that have crossed the line from just being borderline delinquent like we were. In his most recent email he says this:   When I was a baby lawyer, I tried all different areas of law, including running my own practice.  Over the past 14 years, I have been practicing exclusively in the area of law that I truly love.  I represent indigent juveniles in Juvenile Court.  I work for the Juvenile Public Defender.

It has been a blessing to reconnect with Ruben. And in the process I have learned some important lessons. 

  1. I have learned to never give up on that missing person. You never know who may reappear in your life and when.  
  2.  I have also been reminded not to give up on borderline juvenile delinquents or downright irreverent teenagers.  It could be that God is preparing them for something very special.  One thing is for sure…the kids they serve someday will get little past them! 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your words could not be more true. "Do not give up on the missing"; they tend to turn up when you need them most. I know you did.

Love,
Mary Ann