“It’s not glamorous here but it is glorious” – Able Carrico –
While you won’t find the glitz associated with big social media-driven mega ministries, there are enough love, joy, and miracles in this place to confirm God’s presence. In our case we see the Lord calling us deeper into the other fruits of the spirit especially peace, patience, faithfulness, and self-control which can be unwittingly sidelined in charismatic circles. More often than not their cultivation takes place in the context of His longsuffering.
All that being said, the following is excerpted from a previous blog and describes just one of my experiences with a Holston child. It is my experience and by no means representative of the average Holston child or any official position of Holston or Holston staff. If your spirit is quickened and your heart resonates with what you read then you just may be called to work here with our rejected, abandoned, and traumatized, adolescents, and or their parents.
Snapping turtles will invariably bite any hand that tries to feed them. I was a snapping turtle as a teen. Those who have heard my testimony or read some of my previous posts will know what I mean. God loved me despite me. Ephesians 2 Several of those whom I’ve had the distinct pleasure of serving are the same. One particular boy has a special place in my heart. I can’t tell you his real name so I’ll call him “Sid” after “The Evil Sid” from the movie Toy Story.
Sid is the marginalized and forgotten archetype of a traumatized child.
Our Sid made a bomb just for fun and accidentally blew himself up. While his physical injuries were healed it was part of the reason for his being sent to Holston. I get that. I made bombs when I was a boy too. In this case, it was the overarching paradigm for Sid’s daily existence. He laughed while telling me he’d enjoyed the burns on half his body because he “got high for free”. “They gave me the good drugs!” he laughed. As one might expect, Sid had a particularly foul mouth. My supervisor counted the number of times in the course of three minutes that Sid referred to me in the urban rendition of a female dog. She told me she quit counting at forty-seven. That’s not accounting for the myriad of other profane conjunctions. He was particularly frustrated that day because he’d dropped the pencil with which he’d planned to stab me. “Go – head bend over and pick it up so I can kick you in yo face!” I held his gaze and calmly kicked it away.
“You a b#&*!” Sid snapped.
Still, Sid was witty at times. “I need to s*&t!” he blurted. “Can you find another word?” I asked. “Ok,” Sid said. “How about “shoot?”. “That’s fine,” I replied. If you keep cussing it’ll be another grounding. “Grounding” at Holston means sitting alone at a table where you can read, write, color or draw without talking to any other kids as they play games or watch T.V. Sid was always grounded. In fact, his record was twelve hours without being grounded.
Later that evening Sid told me he was about to shoot himself.
“Are you thinking of killing yourself?” I asked completely forgetting our prior conversation.
“Blank No!… Remember? You told me to find another word.”
“Can you unlock the bathroom?”
Sid ran away for a second time a few days later. We call it AWOL. The police brought him back in handcuffs a few hours later. He was cursing and spouting off about “swinging on staff” as soon as the cuffs were off. I guess he thought he sounded pretty tough even though he’d clearly been crying. The cops told us he’d surrendered when they threatened to release the dog.
They thought that was pretty funny.
They didn’t have a dog.
Every day I’d greet Sid with a smile and a hand on his shoulder. “How ya doing Sid?” to which he’d reply,
“Blank you! You blanking blanker!!!”
“Sigh…That’s a restart on your grounding Sid.”
This went on for weeks. Every day I’d let Sid snap until he was tired of snapping which was usually when he fell asleep. I’d hold him accountable and give him every available consequence. I’d tell him he needed to stop proverbially blowing himself up – that threatening me amounted to him holding a gun to his head and screaming “stop or I’ll shoot!” But Sid didn’t care. At least that’s what he wanted us and maybe himself to believe. One day the Lord prompted me to stick my head in his room after he’d had a particularly rough phone call. He had at least three tears streaming down his face as I spoke.
“You don’t want to hear this now”, I began. “But let me just plant one seed. If you ever get tired of blowing yourself up and give your life to Jesus, that demon that is destroying your life will leave.”
“Hell yeah,” Sid said.
The next day I told Sid I loved him after he called me and other staff the usual slew of explicatives. He finally laughed.
“You really like the bad kids don’t you?”
Then one of Sid’s sidekicks, asked me if there is anything a kid could say or do that would make me hit them?
“Absolutely not” I replied.
“Well…what if I hit your wife?” Sid grinned.
It was around that time that Sid started to open up about the most horrible trauma you can imagine.
“My mom is a whore.” he began. “One of her boyfriends was beating her up. I thought he was gonna kill her. So I grabbed a bat and beat his @$$! Then my mom called the police and pressed charges on me!”
Sid’s favorite aunt shot herself in the chest and bled out in front of him when he was 12. “I didn’t know what to do…” he said nearly crying before he could get his walls back up. Sid had concluded that not giving a “blank” is the key to survival. I told him that’s only true if you’re planning to do life in prison.
“That’s where I’m going,” he said.
Then a miracle happened. Sid started saying “thank you” instead of “F-you” and “good night” instead of “Blank you mother blankers”. One day he stopped on his way to do his laundry, turned to me, and said,
“You know I could be a really good man if I changed.”
If you don’t quit; you win. -Heidi Baker-
The next day Sid asked me a question. “Hey, Mr. Brian, ya know what you remind me of?” “What’s that Sid?” Given the previous night’s revelation, I was half expecting some genuine spiritual fruit.
“A Q-tip!” he cackled.
“I can see why you might say that” I laughed.
Sid’s shoulders sank as he walked away.
Then Sid tried to form a gang of other broken boys. He facilitated a classroom brawl and tried to lead a rebellion. In the end, they took him out in shackles and drove away.
One plants, one waters, but only God gives the increase. 1 Corinthians 3
I wept for Sid.
The longsuffering of our Lord is salvation. 2 Pet 3:15
One reason why I have such a heart for the Sids of the world is that they have had transparency imposed upon them. Their Sid reputations are fully documented often in a way that embellishes the bad. They don’t bother to pull punches in telling us the truth about what they think. Where others see a menace to society, I see budding apostle Pauls if the scales would fall from their eyes.
Hence when “F-you!” suddenly becomes “thank you” you can be fairly certain of genuine transformation.
We do a lot of things to facilitate transformation. At the end of the day, I suspect that one of the most significant ways a child encounters the Love of God at Holston is when we don’t beat the tar out of them when they do everything in their power to prove they are “Children appointed to wrath.” Ephesians 2:3. And while so many in our identity-focused culture recoil when I say that I work with Sids because,
I am Sid
Those who really know me know it’s true. The Sids of the world is what will keep me at Holston.
Any power or ability I may have to love is the fruit of my brokenness. Luke 7:47
My prayer is that the gift of repentance would fall as it did in H.A. Baker’s Visions Beyond the Veil. Still, the older I get, the more I am convinced that places to which God has us “GO” are more for our transformation than His need for us to accomplish His will. Those who proclaim they want “More! More! More!” – those truly called to the “deep that cries out to deep” will encounter, and become increasingly identified with the brokenness, and sorrow, of our Lord, not only His joy. Isaiah 53.
If this message resonates with your heart and you identify with the Sids of the world, then maybe give Able a call and he’ll point you in the right direction.