Friday, December 17, 2010

Insensitive? *shrugs* Valid? Definitely


Hmm, why are you such a magnet to demented asocial whelps?
 

I know, insensitive question - but visceral never the same. A sanctuary should have its rules, and those who seek its shelter are duty bound to obey them with humility and gratitude.... Remember, they are refugees not guests.

Perhaps you should try and arrange for a howling raging mob of villagers baying for the blood of the sanctuary seekers waiting to lynch them the minute they step out of the sacred precincts. That should keep them in line and well behaved?

First, let me say this comment/question is one of the reasons I'm daily grateful for this person's friendship. He has a way of being brutally honest in a way I don't find offensive, but which usually makes me giggle... even if the truth of it can be uncomfortable.

Demented, asocial whelps.

Sadly, when it come to the age group in question (18-28), that's pretty much the majority. No joke. I know there are a lot of wonderfully raised, responsible, mature young people out there... but in America, they are a distinct minority.

I could go on a long-winded Dennis Milleresque rant about the ills of American society (because culture would be a misnomer) but I don't think that was the intent of the question. The rant would be worth doing one day but I'll save it for when the emotions are there to fuel something spectacular.

I know, insensitive question - but visceral never the same. A sanctuary should have its rules, and those who seek its shelter are duty bound to obey them with humility and gratitude.... Remember, they are refugees not guests.

This is very true, and a lesson Charlie and I have learned by degrees, sometimes quite painfully. We have, for years, labored under the delusion that by living the example, people would either choose to follow the example or, I don't know... learn by osmosis? I think I really believed, especially with Cameron, that living an example of personal responsibility would encourage her to learn the same.

We totally missed the truth that humans as a species don't really like change... especially change that involves work on their part.

So, combine a pair of bleeding heart, New Testament Christians (ie... people who believe in following Jesus command to give not only your tunic, if asked, but your cloak also) with wounded young people who never had a decent example and you have a recipe for disaster.

Charlie and I have always had difficulty with the word "No". It's one of the reasons we could blow through a six figure income each year and not understand why we were still living month to month. If the kids broke something, we replaced it. If they asked for something, they got it. If we had a whim (what Charlie used to call Command Decisions) we'd buy something stupidly expensive that we didn't need. And if someone came to us with a need, we did everything we could to meet it. I'm grateful to say that when the bottom dropped out, the character we had tried to teach our kids shone through. They handled the change in financial circumstances better than Charlie and I.

We didn't get burned by a someone staying with us until Cameron came along. By that time, the six figure income was gone, the partners in the business venture Charlie had financed had cut him out of the business and we were living on the grace and generosity of extended family.


I was nearing integration and feeling oh so much stronger than ever before and Charlie and I genuinely thought we could handle a refugee of Cameron's caliber. We were so wrong.

I had my fill in under a year. It took Charlie nearly two... it took him until she started trying to get between him and me... but rather than tell her "it's time to go", he did all he could to keep the peace until she figured that out on her own. When she realized she could no longer manipulate anyone in the house to do her bidding and that everyone avoided her, she got the clue. I regret we all played the passive-aggressive game... but it happened and we've accepted the consequences.

Fast forward two years... (we were slowly getting back on our feet financially, without the reliance on extended family) and the quartet of young men who stayed with us for various lengths of time from August '09- July '10. Of the four, only one was a flaming lunatic. We did create a lease of sorts. We drew up a written set of absolute house rules. That set of rules is why "God is Watching Man" was out in only three weeks. He had one week to give us an idea of what we were dealing with... a week of game playing where he tried to manipulate the rules and a final week only because Charlie was kind enough to give him seven days notice. On the seventh day, it took informing him the police would be called before he finally packed his stuff and left.

Since the last of the young men (Chris) moved out this summer, we haven't had any other lodgers. For the time being, we do not intend to. Grand-babies are the priority right now and they get the majority of my energy. There simply isn't any left for babes in their teens and twenties.

For all the stress and strain, I don't regret the people we've had stay with us. Each has taught us important lessons. Each of them has brought their blessings... okay, except maybe for Tim.... but even there, you could call a new set of family jokes a blessing of sorts. All you have to do is remind someone God is watching and any tense mood is eased.

For the future, it's still and probably always will be, our dream to have an open home for those in need. We're taking lessons from our own experiences and from a local shelter for abused women on the kinds of rules necessary when dealing with wounded people. I don't plan to ever allow another profoundly mentally ill person into our home. We simply aren't equipped... and we've found that those who have come through our doors are not in a place where they can admit to the need for help beyond our skills.

From here out, it's written contracts and specific consequences. Follow the rules or out the door.

Society isn't going to get any better. That's simply the reality. There will always be people in need. If we can, when we can, we'll do what we can to help. But the days of being doormats are over.

So even there, we can thank Tim. He was the lesson that finally taught us that 'keeping the peace' is an illusion and when you need to speak up, you'd better take ownership of your home and speak. Even if you have to do it at the top of your lungs with the rest of the family cheering you on.

I'd love to think that any guest we have in our home would be well behaved and grateful... and there have been many who have been just that. They make up the majority. We're not deluded enough to think we'll never have another whack job under our roof... but I'm willing to take the chance for the nine (or twelve) others who find what they need here.

Hope that answered your question.