Tuesday night we took Donte out to dinner to celebrate his 21st birthday. On the way home, I told JR that “parenting” Donte has been the best and worst part of our marriage.
When we said “I do”, Donte had already been in JR’s life for three years. He was one of his closest Young Life boys at the time. There was really no option for me but to embrace this young man being around. Of course at the time we had no idea how much we would really embrace this young man.
It’s been the worst part because it has been tremendously costly. Our friendship with Donte has cost us every type of resource we have: social capital, financial, spiritual and emotional. It has been inconvenient and discouraging. We’ve navigated many waters and situations where we’ve had no clue what to do or what is right. We’ve disagreed on what to do. It’s cost us time together. It is often frustrating and just plain hard.
It’s been the best part because as we have worked as a team and prayed for something that has seemed impossible we’ve seen God do some incredibly miraculous things. I love my husband more because of the way he loves Donte.
We had several friends go above and beyond to love Donte on his birthday this year. One invited him into her family’s home and celebrated Donte with very generous gifts and a birthday cake. Another couple threw him a surprise party. On our way to dinner, we asked which birthday has been his favorite, partially expecting the answer to be this one. Without hesitation he quickly answered, “My 17th birthday when JR had all those people bring me different things at school.” Later on at dinner he told us that on his 17th birthday he thought he would be in prison, dead or living his life continually under the influence of drugs by 21. We celebrated that he was none of those things and that he is now on a very different path for his future.
On Tuesday night Donte shared with us a small way he hopes to be generous to two of his friends once he is employed again. He then shared that on his list of things he dreams for his future returning the generosity he has been given is near the top. This was the first time we’ve heard him truly acknowledge how much he has generously and graciously been given from others who owed him nothing. He longs to be successful so that he can pay it forward and be generous to others in need. H
That is exactly what Jesus does for people. We have been given much: salvation, freedom, peace, joy, confidence and a family. Due to that, we give much to others. We give to the lost, the hurting, the broken and the poor. We give to those in need because all of our needs have been met in Christ. We invite them in to the family and freedom we have tasted and seen for ourselves. Much has been given to us; therefore, we give much.
Donte’s journey reminds me of how much I have been given, how I so often forget to recognize the generosity and how it is the call on my life to give much to others.
Many of you have so faithfully prayed for our friend. Here are a few things you can continue to pray: 1) For a job 2) For him to get a photo ID 3) For continued perseverance and dedication to abide by all of the restrictions of his probation 4) For Donte to humbly submit to all of the authority he is under
May you too remember how much you are given in Jesus and may that drive you to give generously in every area of your life.