So Stanley wanted to buy me some dinner. I said I was craving fruit, so we went to McDonalds. I know–that sounds like an oxymoron, but we headed for the golden arches. I was glad to see that smoothies were an option, and Stanley ordered one for each of us. I was surprised to see that the attendant had made over twice as much as was needed and she proceeded to give him four cups of smoothie.
“People often give me extra food like that,” Stanley explained happily. We each had more smoothie than we expected plus a large cup was left over. “I’ll take that to my mom,” Stanley told me.
As the conversation progressed, Stanley told me about how he had grown up in the projects in a gang-infested neighborhood during a time when the high school he would soon attend as integrated, and how riots broke out He spoke about how many people told him that he would never amount to anything. But his mother believed in him and her other children.
Even though the high school he attended was in a poor part of town, he had loving teachers who instilled confidence in him. He was able to go to college and get a degree in communications.
I noticed how articulate this thirty-three year old man was, and his communication was indeed effective. I felt moved by his recounting of how he is in a situation where his brother, sister-in-law, their two kids and mother are looking for a place to live together so that they can share the rent and work together on a common business. I encouraged him with some tools like the Immanuel Approach and the Life Model. He was very interested and even hungry to know about such things.
I just happened to have my “Joy Starts Here” book with me and I showed it to him. I told him about how inspired I had been by Jim Wilder who wrote me back almost immediately after I emailed him.
“This information is about how we can both follow Jesus and be joy-starters,” I explained. “I think this is the best information out there for helping Christians really walk the walk.”
After talking about how important joy is to both of us, Stanley seemed very encouraged. Excitedly, he said, “I am going to look up that book on Amazon and get it.” I also felt encouraged because I so enjoy sharing resources that can help people.
“I hope that you will use this book as a study guide,” I told him. “There are bible studies, activities, and even questionnaires at the end of each chapter. Maybe you and your mom could do this together.”
“Yes,” said he. “I can see us getting together at the park and reading the chapter and going through this together. Maybe this could really help my mom.”
Nurturing his mom was extremely important to Stanley. “I’m the only one of us kids that is willing to take care of her,” he confided sadly. “I like to travel and be free, but God is working with me to help me be content to stay with my mom while she needs me. Plus, I would feel horrible if I deserted her.”
One of the things I appreciated about most of the intentional Christian communities that I visited was that they were committed to care for their aging members. It is so much easier for a community to come together to help people in this way, and I hope that Stanley can find a way to make sure her needs are met. I didn’t ask him why his brother was willing to now live with their mother, but I am guessing that with the rising cost of living, he was willing to share a house.
I’m going to finish this post about Stanley in part 3.