Jacob is a twenty-one year old man who works for me. I have not written about him on this blog, and I thought it was about time that I did. Obviously, Jacob is not his real name.
He is a red haired young man who ‘s life has been very hard, from the little I know of it. Almost from the time he walked onto the jobsite, I could tell he was troubled; internally struggling with his life, with all the circumstances, and with what he had to do in this world. His childhood was shared by three other half-brothers, each of whom had different fathers. I can imagine that this arrangement alone caused some confusion and more than a little stress in Jacob’s home as he grew up.
Every time I talk with Jacob, I learn more of his past, and I mean to say, his past is not a past I would want to claim as my own. There has been far more betrayal and rejection in his life than in most other people I have met. When I first met Jacob (whom we affectionately call “Boone”), you could see the trouble from his past in his eyes. Boone rarely talked or smiled, and laughing was not even on the radar screen.
He has been with us for six months now, and the changes within him are showing. It started, I think, when he finally believed he was accepted. His belief in that acceptance was cemented when he screwed up, and wasn’t fired or treated less than when he did well. Boone talks now, sometimes even before . Yes, he still struggles to open up in the morning, and that’s okay.
Boone smiles now. Sometimes while working, when he thinks no one is watching, he even whistles a tune and grins as he does so. I personally have heard Boone laugh now many more times than I can count. This is a place I never thought I’d see this young man in, but here he is. Young Jacob is coming out of his shell. He’s such a good kid, and we chide him as you can imagine, but instead of him taking the chiding as being a betrayal, he joins in now and fires back good-naturedly.
Did you read that?
He JOINS in. He feels accepted, and he is accepted. I never thought Boone would last with us; I didn’t think he’d feel that he fit in. None of us moved over to make room for him. It wasn’t that we tried to lock him out. We just aim to be ourselves, and somehow, in this little group of guys I have working for me, Boone nestled in, and here he stays. There isn’t a guy amongst us who wouldn’t stand up and defend Jacob.
I don’t think Boone expected this. I certainly didn’t. Like so many troubled young men, it just always seems like they leave or give up before they ever feel accepted. And like all of us, their hearts are easily bruised; one word can send them away to where they’ll never come back.
I don’t know much about life. But I do know that acceptance opens the door to knowing people as they really are. Trusting in acceptance opens doors to those who believed every door would be slammed in their face. And it doesn’t take all that much to accept someone just as they are. In fact, I have learned this one truth very recently; It takes much more energy to judge someone for what they have done and to stay angry than it does to just accept them and love them for themselves.
You can try to prove me wrong, but I think you could butt your head against that brick wall for a thousand years, and never move it an inch.