This post is to prepare you and me both for next weeks podcast. It is going to be heavy and important. If you are following us on this journey, please listen and share the podcast on Wed.
My parents joined the foster program a while back. It was something that I have always been very proud of. My mom, after going back to get her college degree, got a job at CPS. My dad has always been great with kids, even though he won’t admit it to anyone. This was a charity that my family had not done ever before. This was a sacrificial kind of work that we had never sought before. This was different and awesome.
After a few different short term cases, my parents got their first long term case. He stayed with my parents for a few years (I don’t remember how many). He stayed with them until he became more than my parents were able to handle. As young men grow up, the baggage they carry often turns to anger and it can be very difficult to manage.
My dad and him had a bit of tiff and he called his social worker. The social worker had to respond, but the response was, “one day he will realize he fell ass backwards into a great situation.”
That was similar to what I told my parents after they had to send him back to the system. I told them, “just wait, you’ll see that just giving him the chance to experience a life that is different than what he came from will have a huge impact. He won’t realize it until long after he has messed it up and comes full circle.” In essence, I told them to have faith in the work they did. Sometimes the seed has to spread deep roots before sprouting and bearing fruit.
About a year or so ago, I got message from him on Facebook. He was older and had a kid and wanted to reconnect with my parents. With their permission, I gave him their phone number. Since then he has called my parents every other month just to check in. He told them how he has been making decisions to be in his child’s life because he didn’t have his father. He separated himself from the negative community he was in. He was trying to make the right decisions inspired by experiences with my parents.
Then came Christmas time, his call didn’t come. A few weeks later, my parents were informed that he was shot and killed in a seemingly senseless act of violence. My dad and I were processing this information and he made the comment that it was a waste.
It is a waste. A waste of life. A waste of good work invested into someone without him being able to bring it to fruition. A father trying to make a life for his kid, wasted. A man trying to make a life for his wife, wasted.
This is all true, but I can’t look at it that way. I have to believe that the good work was still worth doing. I struggle though, because he was making the generational decision to make the life of his kid better than his own, but now that kid will not have that influence. We will not see the outcome of the good work, but I have to believe that it was still worth doing. That there is something else that I can’t see. I believe that doing good should be done without the condition of compensation or reward. Doing good is a good in itself.
I have to admit that this puts my belief to the test.
It can’t all be for nothing. Something inside of me will not allow me to believe that.
I am going to hold fast to this belief, hold onto my hope.
Good work is always worth doing.