Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Evolution of Erik

I've been saddled with some crud for the past week which has pretty much laid me low, but today we were determined to get in a visit with Erik, since this is the first weekend since he made the choice to go into rehab that he was allowed to have "family" visits.

To put it in perspective, I slept all day Saturday and then crashed at around 8 that night thinking I'd be fully energized for church and then a visit with Erik. I ended up waking up at 9:30 (missed the first service) and Amy took one look at me and said, "Maybe we should just make it our goal to visit Erik...and not infect the entire congregation with whatever disease you're carrying"

Okay, she didn't say it quite like that, but the gist of her message was for a guy who normally sleeps 3 to 5 hours a day to sleep for 36 hours almost straight through that perhaps we should consider that a 'sign' that I needed to slow down a little.

I think I mumbled something which was supposed to sound macho....and then took a nap.

We did manage to get a few items together for Erik - a CD player and a CD of tunes which I realized later he really wanted less for the music but more for the headphones to drown out the noise so that he might get some sleep.

It was a wonderful visit. It's an amazing program the Salvation Army runs and Erik seems much better (albeit he's still adjusting to waking up at 6 a.m. ) - I commented on the dark circles under his eyes and he said, "I'm a night person, but my body is slowly convincing me that I'm not going to be able to stay a night person."

He's working the program, taking full advantage of almost everything offered (he hasn't hit the gym yet) and he says he's having no problem surrounding himself with guys who are not destined to fail and drag him down in the process. In fact he says once people see you are committed to changing your life, you tend to attract people who are equally committed...the guys who are just "playing the system" write you off pretty quick.

I was happy to hear that, and ecstatic to see him rapidly advancing up the system - the folks in charge apparently are well acquainted with the hard cases and the people who might only need some solid support to get their lives completely turned around. They've obviously devoted considerable resources toward Erik after determining he is highly "salvageable."

He's got a mentor but says really everyone he's living with is helping him. He's working 40 hours a week, going to classes, going to meetings, doing homework and has a schedule for every day. He's busy and he's blessed to be so. It's been a long time...of drifting. He also knows despite the miraculous changes he's already made, he's got a long way to go.

He reinforced that point to us as we discussed the fact that next week he should essentially be off his 30 day probationary period. Amy and I were hoping to get permission to take him to Dallas for Thanksgiving, but he told us that wasn't going to happen. Although we might be able to pull a few strings - play our "ordained" cards and such - Erik said he wanted to stay within the guidelines, not cut any corners...yeah, I was even prouder of him then.

Although I had been with Erik for his "intake" this was my first time actually inside the facility. It's amazingly clean, comfortable, there are lots of activities from ping-pong, to video games, a gym, computers for 'games', and computers for 'business', plus a TV room devoted entirely to sports - 60 inch TV's - comfortable chairs and the like. I asked if I could check-in ... only half-facetiously. Amy asked too...for her, not me.

Erik is considering becoming a Salvation Army "soldier" - meaning he'd go through the program and then attend two years of "in house" schooling in what is the Salvation Army equivalent of Divinity school, becoming an "officer" committed to devoting his life to the "Army." Certainly a noble ambition...and one I don't want to dissuade whatsoever.

However, Erik and I discussed this some via emails earlier in the week and I admittedly tried to steer him into not making any additional life changing commitments at this point - again, not discouraging him, but wanting him to give God time to work in his life. Today he said he decided he was staying enrolled on a tract that will allow him to take that step to becoming an Army officer if he decides to, but also gives him the flexibility to choose another course if he hears God calling him in a different direction.

Erik is making decisions about his life...I don't think I have the words to express how huge that is for a young man who has really been avoiding decisions for far too long.

It was good to see...very good.

As we were leaving, Amy and I were trying to set up a time to take him out for a "family Thanksgiving" in the next week or so. He was anxious for that to happen, but when it came down to picking out a day he said, "Well, let's not decide this now. Let me make sure of my schedule and we'll 'take it one day at a time'"

Yeah, Erik's doing well. I am very proud and I expect he's going to make us even prouder in the weeks and months ahead.

I shouldn't be surprised...after all, Erik's not making these changes alone, and certainly it's not Amy and me...this is a true God thing.

God never fails to astound me how quickly He'll mold us, when only we allow Him to handle the clay.

Your grace still amazes me
Your love is still a mystery
Each day I fall on my knees
Your grace still amazes me

Phillips, Craig & Dean