Jon has been attending New City Afterschool for about three or four weeks now. He started coming with some of the regular students, and has now become a regular student himself. Jon is an interesting kid who’s emotional state often flips like a light switch.

He will often appear to be full of joy and optimism. He’s fun to be around, and at times a little too hyper. He interacts with other students well and easily carries conversations with adults. Without warning though, he will suddenly become quiet, reserved, and removed. Jon will be sitting in the circle of small group one moment, and the next moment he’ll be in the corner trying to avoid people.

Alaina and I have been trying to figure out what makes Jon tick for a while now, but haven’t gotten very far. Yesterday he arrived and told me he didn’t want to participate in what we were doing. He wanted to be quiet and reserved Jon. I pulled him aside, sat him down, and asked what was up. I truthfully expected some kind of middle school girl related drama. What I got was a child who opened up his soul. He talked about how he was struggling with his “internal darkness.” When I asked about that darkness, he said it came from not really knowing his dad, and not being able to even meet his dad due to the crime he had committed years ago. All he really knew about his dad came from stories of how he had committed a serious crime. Those stories combined with is father’s absence, had created a painful spot in Jon’s heart.

I was blown away by Jon’s honesty.

Jon wanted space yesterday to prep for his art project he would be working on that evening in Art Club. His painting needed words that reflected where he was in life. He spent time working out his thoughts, and then joined our baking activity. At the end of the night, I ran into Jon who was carrying his painting. He eagerly showed me his work of art.

I was blown away by Jon’s understanding and hope.

For the last three weeks, in Bible study, we’ve been wrestling with how to love our neighbor, love our enemy, and extend forgiveness. Jon never seemed to be participating, but Jon was not only participating internally, he was applying it to his life. You’ll see him and his painting below. Jon is wrestling with his life, and with God, and its beautiful.