This morning I was sitting in my office minding my own business, which today meant watching a BBC documentary on YouTube while catching up on emails. I was interrupted by a young black teenage girl in my doorway: “I need someone to talk to. God told me to come in here.”
Who can argue with that?
What followed felt much like some of the scenes from the movie Precious with Mariah Carey, except, perhaps, if the movie had to be re-written for a PG-13 rating. Tye was her name, and she was smart and clear-headed, but came from a home rife with absent fathers, poverty and mental illness. While we both grew up in the same zip code, if I tried to compare my childhood to hers, we’d all get whiplash.
All I could do was listen and offer tissues for her tears. Throughout the next hour I only spoke a handful of times and only tried to be sympathetic and non-anxious. Tye had thought about acting out just to get to go to juvenile detention and away from her mom, but decided against it. (I told you she was smart) She had two older sisters who were sympathetic but unable to help- one was serving in Afghanistan and the other had her own child. She was homeschooling herself (!)
Throughout our talk, I really came to like Tye. I think she was just as surprised as me that she was in my office pouring her heart out. I really wanted to see her do well. She was on her way to Taco Bell to pick up an employment application, excited by the possibility of taking care of herself. She didn’t expect anything from me and even refused when I offered a lift to Taco Bell.
In the end, all I could really say was that I’d be happy to meet with her whenever she wanted. I promised to be a friendly face if she ever wanted to come here for church.
I really hope she’ll take me up on either of those offers.