Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Space (01/23/06)
TITLE: Come Out Jeremy
By Rick Rupe
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Jeremy hasn’t belonged to anyone or anything since he was taken from his mother at three; and has no friends because he’s been moved at least three times every year since. This tall good-looking boy came to our school only because professionals tracked him, found him, and forced him to attend yet another social setting full of strangers
Teacher’s classroom routines appear to have little effect on him. We typically say, “Here’s your seat, please use the materials and try to follow the lesson. You’ve been absent so be patient; I ‘ll help you catch up; would you prefer another student help you; you need to cooperate; we’ll work together.” His seat assignment is all he really hears. Once he finds his seat he quickly builds his invisible walls of resistance or isolation depending upon the climate of the classroom.
One special, highly respected, and completely non-threatening teacher has a way of bringing students out from behind their walls of fear, anger, and resentment as she lovingly and tactfully coaxes them to remove their tough masks hiding feelings of detachment and failure, but Jeremy resists even her best efforts and any involvement that requires more than a few brief moments of refocus away from his personal space.
Seldom the cause of class disruption, however it’s obvious that his very presence and hostility toward authority has a contagious effect on his eighth grade classmates many of which actually model his uncooperative behavior. Even those from stable homes with above average achievement, also maturing and expanding their perspectives, watch his cool detachment and his defiance of rules, procedures, and simple reasonable requests even with peer help and play.
Jeremy is a mystery wrapped in a riddle to all the adults assigned to work with him from his latest foster parents, dozens of teachers, juvenile justice, drug and emotional rehab staff, court and welfare case workers, school appointed home school visitors (truant officer), and psychologists. Every school principal in this medium sized town knows him by name and has given their professional best shot to get him on track, all without any change in his basic resistance to all of it.
Jeremy’s two inch thick and growing permanent record file notes that his previous behavior has not been violent or destructive to people or property other than skirmishes within the normal range for children and adolescents. His type of anti-social behavior manifests in compulsive resistance to all efforts to enter or control his personal space, even though he has no clue of its direction, value, or purpose. All Jeremy knows is that it is his space and no one will tell him what to do, how to think, how to read, when to move, or to respond.
Every day in our schools and juvenile agencies, thousands of children display anti-social behaviors beyond clear description and explanation. This quite often results in inappropriate and ineffective placement, in spite of hundreds of combined years of professional research, study, and experience with children. Many children are just too deep into their own space and have been through far worse developmental tragedy than Jeremy. How do the professionals undo this self-centered perspective of the outside world?
New Christians may have been reluctant to allow the Spirit of Christ to enter into their hearts even though the promised gift is freedom from fear and weakness. Many devout Christians at times are unsure whether the fears are truly gone and often relapse into periods of insecurity.
Contemplate for a moment the spiritual state of Jeremy or someone you know whom has never experienced strength or security, and try to imagine how deep the Spirit must descend into their space to find and lift that lost soul up to the level of seeing and accepting Christ and then others around them.
In our public schools all prayer and reliance on Spiritual power is being systematically eliminated as a source of healing. Its obvious by Jeremy’s file that all of the king’s horses and men can’t do what the Spirit can to change the life of this one scared boy.
We can pray that a caring person will somehow find Jeremy and guide him to invite Jesus into that special space called the heart. Jeremy must understand that Jesus enters so peacefully and quietly that only the two are involved. Once the Spirit comes in bringing trust and God’s intended plan, fear begins to disappear allowing Jeremy to come out.
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