To Daniel’s new small group leader or youth pastor,
I’m not going to lie to you, I think Daniel’s my favorite of the bunch who will not be with us next year. He is by far the smartest boy in our group of guys. Very articulate, extremely well-mannered and as honest as they come.
When he first started coming to the group, Daniel didn’t hesitate to rattle off his biblical knowledge. It was to the point of obnoxious, really. You could definitely tell that either he was raised in a Christian school or his parents were diligent in making him memorize his bible verses. This grew old very quick among the rest of the guys, and he slowly began to separate himself during large group throughout the weeks.
Then, his first weekend retreat happened… and he opened up.
In the following years, Daniel would be the guy who just couldn’t catch a break. Sure he made some poor decisions, but it was hearing the stories about his parents that crushed me the most. Each time he shared something new, I always expected that he would completely break down and do an “ugly cry,” like some of us would, but no. It was like each story was a layer of an onion slowly being peeled back, stories that would include:
- The time he told us about his father finding out he had cancer.
- Followed by hearing how much of a toll it took on his younger sister and how much it worries him.
- Then him telling us about the fighting, and his mom slowing “checking out.”
- Leading to his battle with porn, which then led to a food addiction
Daniel would always keep his composure and say out loud “well I know God’s plan is in all of this, and even though I don’t know what it is, and even though it hurts, it’s gotta be good so I just have to be positive.” You could tell that what he learned from the Bible in school became more practical to him, and more his own instead of assigned homework.
…and then the non-nonchalant full disclosure moment when he blurted out, “Hey guys, I guess pray for me these days because my parents are getting a divorce. I mean, both me and my sister could see it coming… I guess I worry more for her. Just pray for her ok? Thanks guys.”
He broke into tears, and this Daniel, broke my heart.
So, I hand off this young man to you as I fight back these tears because I know God’s putting him in the hands of somebody capable. I thank you for you, and I thank you in advance for guiding him through his mess.
Please, please hold him close, love on him and be there throughout these extremely tough years.
Letter 3 in the Hand Off series.
(names changed to protect identities)