For many of us, the question “who are your mom and dad?” is a pretty easy question. They are the ones who raise you, supported you and protected you when you were scared. Unfortunately, that is not the case for so many of our City Life youth. Many of our youth only know one parent, most of the time that is their mom, but for Athena, the question of who her parents are is a very complicated question.
Athena came to Albany City Life because her brother was invited, and he didn’t want to go alone the first time. When I pulled up to their house to pick them up, they walked shyly to the car door and got in. At their first Club event they were very quiet, did not answer any questions, sat next to each other and watched what the other youth attending Club did and mimicked their actions. However, that shyness did not last long. Before the first Club night was over, they were laughing and smiling with the other youth. The next week when I picked them up, they both ran out of the house to get to the car as fast as possible, excited to be a part of Club.
This continued for the next month. Then one Club night came, and Athena did not come out and her brother said she wasn’t coming tonight. She had also missed cooking class that week, which was a shock because she loved cooking class. A few days passed and I was able to get in touch with her mother to see what was happening. I learned that Athena was not coming out of the house because she was struggling with the news that her biological father, who was incarcerated, was suing her mother for visitation in Family Court.
This was a shock to Athena because she didn’t know this man who was suing for custody to be her father and referred to another as her father. She was very hurt, scared and felt alone. Thoughts of “who was this man she called her “dad” for years and who was this new man who was trying to be her dad?” filled her head. After a few conversations, I was finally able to get Athena to come back to Club, convincing her that staying at home wasn’t going to change what was happening, but that she could come and be around others who loved and cared about her.
At that Club I knew this was my time as a leader to remind Athena that no matter who her earthly father was, the most important thing is that she is the daughter of our Heavenly Father. She is a princess, and her father is the King of Kings. That night our focus was on Roman 8:15 “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”. After dropping the rest of the kids off after Club, I asked her what she thought of Club tonight, and she turned and with the biggest smile and said, “I am a princess”.
My pray is that we as Christians will be reminded that we are the sons and daughters of a King, that no matter what happens here on earth, our Heavenly Father will always be with us in good times and bad. That was the lesson that Athena learned that night at Club and I pray that she will always remember that she is a Princess.
*Names have been changed