A young man named “Brian” has been hanging out with us at Cross and Crown as of late. Brian is younger then most of the men we see in his situation. Most of the men that live a life similar to Brian’s, or that we are in relationship with, tend to be in their 40’s and 50’s. Brian is 23.
Personally, this is the first time I have been in relationship with someone, other than a jr. high or high school student, that has come seeking guidance, help and direction and has been younger than myself. This means two things: I am getting old (currently 26) and Brian is way too young to be in the situation that he is in.
I say that Brian is too young to be in the situation that he is in, but on the other hand, he shares the same struggle that countless other young men and women his age struggle with on a daily basis. He struggles with alcohol, he admits. He says that he got caught up with the wrong crowd early on and didn’t do much in school. He jumped schools a few times and ended up dropping out. Rich, poor and somewhere in the middle families each have their fair share of children that battle addictions but fail to address these issues head on. I can’t be sure of it, but Brian’s family appears to have addressed it head on.
Brian is homeless. He, unlike many of the older individuals who struggle with addictions, talks to his family relatively often. He stays at the Salvation Army most nights, he tells me, and he has acquired a locker at the Municipal gym as a place to keep his few possessions. He is very like-able. He is pretty quiet. He’s a kid.
He should be a senior in college or have just graduated. But he’s not. He is on the streets. He made adult decisions while he was still a kid and now, daily, he deals with the consequences.
I think that’s what scares me most. He is 3…4…5 years older than a lot of the kids I work with on a daily basis. Just thinking about some of the boys we have in our Rock Island group now and comparing tendencies they have to past mistakes Brian has made scares me.
I have hope for Brian. Honestly, a much greater hope for him than I do for a lot of the older men with his same problem. Is my increased hope for Brian fair? Maybe not. I guess it’s his youthfulness (which I get a glimpse of when he plays video games after hours with us). Maybe it’s because every time I am with Brian he is sober. He is able to suppress, to some extent, his addiction for certain amounts of time. Maybe it’s because I know there is some Biblical/spiritual foundation instilled in him from his family who I met last week.
Maybe it’s these things along with my belief in God’s power to restore life to brokenness that gives me hope.
“The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and it it to the full” – Jesus