I had the perfect blogpost to write, one that would have probably gotten us more hits than usual and may have even given us the exposure I often dream of. But this song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yvo620cGMyw has moved me to the point that I can’t help but share a real moment with you, one that I experienced this week, a moment that I will never forget.
My profession isn’t the most glamorous. I am not a lawyer, an investment banker or any of those professions that cause people to raise their eyebrows and look upon you with a newfound respect. The nature of my job means that I can, at times, feel insignificant and ignored. The moments where I feel like I have a purpose in the workplace are fleeting and infrequent. Getting out of bed each morning an be difficult because I question whether my absence will have any real impact.
There was a boy who gave my Wednesdays meaning. Not just my Wednesdays, but my presence at work somehow felt validated because of the difference I knew I could make in his life. He was the reason I made the journey, the reason I didn’t quit despite feeling as though I was slowly becoming part of the wallpaper.
This week, he got expelled and the news broke me. It broke me because hearing statistics about Black males in Britain and seeing these statistics play out in real time are two completely different experiences. I see their short-sightedness, their anger at a system they don’t yet understand but they know has been designed to cripple them, their inability to articulate their experience in a way that ensures they are respected, their desire to affirm their masculinity, and how this works in tandem with their brilliance, their confidence and their charm.
It broke me because I always knew deep down where he was going to end up if he wasn’t in school. I was always afraid. Later that night, I cried out to God on his behalf for the first time. I wonder why it took me so long to pray for him despite being aware of his issues. Maybe if I had prayed earlier, things would have panned out differently.
He was there one day and gone the next.
His friends make jokes. “He will probably end up killing someone or in prison” they say and I pray that they are wrong. I pray that even though I can’t reach him, the God I serve will remember him. I hope he remembers the times I told him that he was brilliant; I hope he recalls the times I marvelled at his mind. I hope he defies the odds and ends up in the places I know he secretly dreams he can go. I hope he remembers that he can get there.
I have to believe that God will place someone else in his life that cares enough to pray for him and to guide him away from what appears to be the inevitable. A lot of these boys don’t get out: they just become statistics. You read about them but you don’t know them.
But I knew him.
I know him.
I wonder if he knows the impact he has had on me, that I am changed because of him, that he has not only fuelled my desire to remain in this profession but has also made me realise that I can only stay in it for so long.
He probably doesn’t; he knows he is special but often underestimates how special he really is.
From the end of the earth will I call unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
Though I feel disheartened, I will continue to pray because right now, that’s all I can do.