Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Roma's Lonely Journey

Continued A Reucurring Theme of Surrender.

I am humbled by God's activity in my life. I am also humbled and thankful for every reader who has joined the story by way of these disorganized posts. It reads very disjointed right now, but please be patient, as I continue to lay out this story that, in spite of the seemingly heartbreaking end, is not over. One day these post might read as congruent chapters, pointing to a loving God whose ways are not our ways, but are, I trust, much higher.

Do I believe what I say I believe? I'm walking this difficult, unavoidable journey to figure it out. Or more accurately put, I'm being carried on this present journey.

It's interesting that I chose for my blog title almost four years ago "Consider it all Joy" from the first chapter of James. "Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." I'm certainly not perfect, and I am lacking more than ever. My faith has indeed been tested, but my story isn't over. It's a lifelong journey. . .

After  Roma hugged me and disappeared into a tunnel at the metro station on that evening in late April, 2015, he seemed lost to me. He was evasive about his plan. When friends would ask about him, I told them I had turned him over to God, and would not worry about him, because he was in capable hands. Did I really trust God? Did I  believe what I claimed to believe?

 One friend asked me why I didn't just make him come home and go to the community college. I would have gladly handed the reins to her, if I thought she could have made it happen. One didn't just make twenty-year-old Roma do things. I could preserve my sanity only by allowing him his opportunity to succeed or fail. I didn't want to see him fail, but I could not prevent it.

What happened on this trip to Georgia, as opposed to the one a year earlier, as documented in The Hound of Heaven Winks,  was hidden from me. Other than scattered texts and phone calls, I had no idea what he was doing.  He wanted to do this, whatever this was, on his own, as though he had something to prove to himself. I felt God was telling me to pull out the safety net we, his family, had provided, and let him go. Like the father in the story of the ProdigalSon, we were powerless to save Roma from his poor choices. The only way he would learn anything was to endure consequences of his actions. "Consequences" that might ruin Roma's life scared the daylights out of me, and I wanted to protect him from himself. But just like the father in the story Jesus told in Luke 15, I would let him go, and eagerly watch the horizon for his repentant return. 

This time I didn't have a friend like Nancy to provide updates, to take Roma to church,  include him in their family events, to fill in the "mother" role in Roma's life. Nancy is the friend God brought to Roma and me in 2014 who is introduced into our story in the scenes of the Hound of Heaven Winks series. Nancy and I were still very much in communication. Although we had only met once in real life, at Roma's disorderly conduct county ordinance case in July, 2014, we were thoroughly bonded from our hundreds of private messages, texts, phone calls, etc., as we marveled at God's activity in Roma's life. She confirmed  the decision to let Roma go by her own conviction to do the same. She had also been a safety net for Roma in Atlanta the previous year. She shared that God had also moved her to remove any protection she had provided for our sweet and clueless boy. Roma had no malice. The malady he most suffered was an immature blindness that he knew what was best for him, and we were holding him back. He was now on a dark and lonely road.

One day Roma called to tell me he had run into Mark again. Mark had taken Roma to Idaho the previous year, after meeting him less than a week earlier by Divine intervention. Those were such exciting days. Read about Mark's entry into our story at Angel and Demon's part one.

Later I got a call from Mark. He wanted to mentor Roma. He had worked in Russia and God had called him to work with Russian kids. His story was similar to mine, as he too questioned God with a "God, you've got to be kidding" reaction to his Call. He shared his opinion that only one in ten Russian adopted kids he had encountered in his "mission work" would be a functioning members of society. And only one in twenty would have a successful, fulfilling life. He thought Roma was in the enviable "one in twenty" category. Mark was going to soon be returning to Idaho, and said, if Roma could pass a drug test, he would be happy to take him back to Idaho on his next trip.

Roma's drug of choice? Pot. "Mom," he would defend himself. "Pot will be legal soon." It continues to make me sick that he was right.Roma was excited to go with Mark on another adventure, and I was even more excited at the prospect of wise Mark mentoring Roma. When I asked him if he could pass the drug test, he feigned shock and hurt that I would even ask the question. But I never heard any more about the trip with Mark to Idaho, so I suspect Roma knew he wouldn't pass the test or took it and failed. I didn't ask many questions, because I was trying to distance myself and let him suffer the blows that real life on his terms would cost him. Not being able to place Roma under Mark's care was a blow for me.  It was hard to let him fail. I reminded myself daily, moment by moment, that I had no power to fix Roma. He didn't want my help. He wouldn't accept my help. He only dug his heels in deeper if I made suggestions. Turn him over, God kept reminding me.

Roma would occasionally send me a text or call when I wasn't readily available. I do not have my phone in hand constantly like kids today do. I even turn mine off it I'm at a meeting or when I think it would be rude to answer.  If much time passed for an unanswered call or text from Roma, he would send me a sad-face emoji, as if he was sad I wasn't interested in his message,  like I was neglecting him. Such a little boy in need of his mother,  pretending to be a man.

Then he started sending us frantic texts that indicated that he needed help. By the time we got back to him for more details, he was not answering his phone. Or returning our calls. Then we got a call from the addiction treatment center he had attended in Florida the year before. The caller said he had checked himself back into treatment. By the third day I could talk to him.

 I had heard of "treatment addiction."  Where kids get addicted to treatment and go back when life gets challenging. Over and over. I asked his counselor about her thoughts on this. I was honest and shared my sincere opinion that  when Roma hits a proverbial wall, he wants someone else to take care of him. Then he could appear as if he is taking charge, making a good decision. If he couldn't count on his family to take care of him, even if it was his choice to refuse our help, he would take charge of the situation, and find someone who would take care of him. I never got many answers from him on why he went back. He expressed disdain for his roommate. Had he gotten kicked out? Was he afraid of legal trouble? Was he eager to run away from mounting trouble?

I will never know. He resisted my questions. I didn't press him for answers, or force him into a corner where he would lie to me.  He had signed permission to allow his counselor to be share his information with me. All she ever told me was he was a model client whose updates indicated that he sailed through his thirty day treatment, was eager to share in group sessions, was a "delight" and "charming."  And "very sweet."  Yes,  yes, I had noticed.

 Suddenly one Saturday morning in early June, I had a peek into Roma's hidden-from-me world. I got a text from Fred, a man I have only known in cyberspace when he had contacted me thirteen months earlier, when Roma had approached him on a sidewalk in Delray Beach asking for money. That encounter awakened me to many other God Stories I would share in the following weeks and months. Don't miss that story, The Hound of Heaven Winks from May of 2014, and then The Gift of Desperation when Fred contacted me again to tell me that God had surprisingly connected him to Roma in another God Story. God was so close. God is still so close.  

   Please stay tuned. 

Continued with Roamin' Roma

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