At school he endured bullying that no child should ever endure. He was spat on, urinated on, beat up, slapped, called awful names that I have no understanding of. Isolation became his surrounding. His leg was broken by a man in his town who had no time to hear the truth of what happened. His family started to crack. He saw a marriage fall apart. He would have to move far away from his father and start a new life. New school. New friends. He walked through a door that held healing, friends, faith, creativity and people who believed in him. He is now surrounded by people who know his value.
Today he is 19 years old. Jeremiah has seen a lot, experienced much and yet he has turned out to be a good guy!
I could take time and describe all the hate that Jeremiah had to endure and the brokenness of a home he had to experience, but honestly, I don’t want to. I don’t want to write about more pain, hate and hurt. Hate is hate. Pain is pain. Hurt is hurt. We all have experienced it on some level and we can relate. But to give more power and “air time” to it is not what this post is about. This post is for those that need to hear about HOPE and those that need to be encouraged that good people, who are willing to love, are out there.
I met Jeremiah over 2 years ago and he was 16 at the time. He instantly made me feel so welcome to a new season of my life. I started a new job at a church and it is there that I met Jeremiah. I have this unique ability to remember the first time I meet someone and what they are wearing! I have always been that way. But for some reason, I don’t remember meeting Jeremiah, all I remember is that he’s always just been there. It’s almost like he quietly slipped into my life and needed no grand entrance. He is the guy you have known for 2 years yet he is the guy you have known forever! He comfortably fits in and he’s constant. I think those are unique and rare qualities!
I have heard it said by one of my friends that you need to have 3 categories of people in your life: those that are mentoring you, your closest friends and those that you are pouring into. A steady flow, a good flow. The word “mentorship” has always seemed so formal to me, like an appointment with someone that I hardly see; yet I am to have coffee with them and open up all about my life. I would like to rename the term “mentorship” to “journeying”. I want to journey with those (older and younger) that are in my life and during the time of walking I advise or I am given advice, I challenge or I am challenged. I desire it to be a natural flow of pouring into someone and being poured into.
Whether you like to call it mentorship or journeying, this story is about a boy who grew up in a broken home, was bullied like no one should ever experience and how many men (& woman) came alongside him and journeyed with him, challenged him, taught him, prayed with him, counseled him and laughed with him; all because they see his value, his purpose, his future and most of all, they love him. By their influence, Jeremiah has made choices that have taken him on a path of success rather than letting the circumstances of his childhood lead him on a path of destruction. He has kept a soft heart and he has refused to have his heart hardened by life’s experiences therefore allowing himself to be poured into and challenged. A teachable heart is the key to life (in my opinion!).
Jeremiah has been blessed to have 4 guys (there are more and women; me!) walk with him this last while; they have influenced and loved him.
James: A brother type to Jeremiah & his youth pastor.
Tim: A father type & his youth pastor.
Jay: The wise uncle & a drum teacher to Jeremiah.
Michael: Another father type, who Jeremiah plays drums for.
I sat down with these guys and asked them about Jeremiah. I wanted to know why they chose to walk along side him and what they hope for him.
James – Youth Pastor
James met Jeremiah the first day of work about 2 years ago (same day as me!) and he soon saw characteristics in Jeremiah that he used to have when he was a teenager. They have a fun relationship with no walls, no hesitation and complete honesty. There is laughter and sometimes arguing! This brother type relationship has taken awhile for them to develop. They have butted heads along the way. James is quick to call Jeremiah on things and Jeremiah is quick to challenge it, leading to an open and honest conversation where they both learn.
James had to learn about life the hard way when he was younger from those older than him. He wants Jeremiah to learn all (character, discipline, spirituality etc) that he needs to learn before he goes to college or starts a career so he can excel twice as fast as James did. James was taught by his father-in-law that charisma and talent can only get you so far, but it’s hard work, discipline, and character that will take you all the way through life.
“The biggest thing I have seen Jeremiah grow in is being teachable. He is blessed to have all these mentors in his life. I see the greatness in him. I see great potential and I see him reproducing that in other people. He is a hard worker and is always serving others. He’s hilarious! He’s going to be one of my best friends when he is older.”
Tim – Youth Pastor
Tim has known Jeremiah for about 10 years; they first met on the basketball court when Tim offered him $20 if he could get a basket from center court! A few years later, Jeremiah started attending the youth group at the church and for the last 5 years they have had a friendship that has turned into a mentorship (fathering). He has come to know Jeremiah’s story of being bullied and yet he knows that is not Jeremiah’s identity; it was a season of his life but it doesn’t own him anymore. Tim could see from the beginning that Jeremiah was marked for greatness and wanted to walk along side him. Tim has journeyed with Jeremiah; challenging him, correcting him, loving him and through it all, he has seen incredible growth. Tim says, “Those who are willing to have people speak into their lives and are willing to remain teachable, these are the ones that are marked for success. Jeremiah has recognized the people he has built trust with, has allowed them to speak truth into his life and this has contributed to his healing, his growth, his maturity and his choices to become the best version of himself. It’s just the beginning for Jeremiah; he loves to be developed.”
Tim’s hope for Jeremiah is to see him become a youth pastor (which Jeremiah wants too); he knows the leadership that he holds inside of him!
Jay – Musician/Drummer
Jay met Jeremiah for the first time at a church in the city when he was about 13 years old. At first Jay got to know Jeremiah when he started playing drums at his church. Jeremiah asked Jay to speak into his life from a musical standpoint but then it soon turned into more of a “mentorship/advice giver” role. A natural accountability and community developed calling out the identity and destiny that was in Jeremiah. “We have a duty as a community to champion those into their destiny and identity.” Jay listens with Jeremiah, he listens a lot, as Jeremiah is an external processor. He allows Jeremiah to come to conclusions as he processes. “Jeremiah is smarter than people think he is, he is very perceptive to things, people, and atmosphere.”
Jay’s wisdom is, “Mentorship is the process of championing someone into his or her destiny, becoming aware of the “mark” that God has placed on someone. It needs to be unique. It’s about seeing the individual walking into the things that are for them. How can you come along side what God is doing in their life? Sometimes that can be tough, as you may have to call them out on character issues, but with the help of God you can help move that person towards the right direction.”
Jay’s hope for Jeremiah, “Because of his age he has a lot of people telling him what he should be doing or what to do, but my hope for him is that he would bypass all of that and have clarity of mind to know deep within his soul in how he is walking and walk in confidence regardless of what everyone is telling him to do. He knows what he is destined for. He has a desire to truly be loved and to love.”
Michael – Musician/Pastor
Michael remembers meeting Jeremiah after a music event. “Jeremiah came up to me at the end of the night and asked me if he could help with tear down. He helped carry the gear out to the truck. I knew at that point that this kid had a heart of gold!” Michael would see him again at church and someone told him that Jeremiah was a pretty good drummer. Michael auditioned him at an event and he could see the purpose in Jeremiah’s life. He wanted to see him play drums more and invest into Jeremiah’s musicianship but also wanted to work with him on a friendship level and invest in his spiritual walk. Michael has seen Jeremiah grow in his confidence, his character and his willingness to take feedback.
Michael has been intentional in his friendship/mentorship with Jeremiah. He sometimes has had to give him tough love, but Jeremiah has a capacity to handle it and process it where he comes out ahead.
Michael hopes that Jeremiah will be a youth pastor one day, he sees his caring heart for people and he also wants him to be a world class, God loving musician. Michael’s final words, “My dream for Jeremiah is that all his dreams will come true.”
Today, Jeremiah is a leader in his youth group and he is influencing others. He is taking the time to lead the ones younger than him that have it all together and don’t have it all together. He knows the power he carries. He is a great guy who is on a path of success. I can’t wait to see where life takes him!
Hate tried to suppress Jeremiah but it had no hold on him when love entered the picture.
So, to the one that has been bullied or is currently bullied, I am sorry. I am sorry that you had to endure isolation, words of hate that wound, insecurity, ridicule and pain I can’t imagine. But, it’s not the end; there is more goodness than you know. There are people out there that will and do love you, believe in you, hope in you, dream for you and stand with you. Find them. Be open to it when they come into your life; don’t let your walls/wounds push them away leading you to more isolation. There are good people out there.
To the one bullied, I pray that you will be found by people who love and are kind.
To the one bullied, I pray that you will find the ones that love and are kind.
To the one bullied, I pray you will find the bullied ones and be their light.
To the ones that aren’t bullied, look for the ones that are and love them. Love them so well that their heart, spirit and soul heals. You hold the key to his or her future.