boarding school for troubled boys

This is not Axel. Sorry to disappoint any of Axel’s readers who clicked the link for some of his eclectic prose, but this is the summer intern at Whetstone, Jon. You may have read about me in the recent newsletter, but if you didn’t you really only need to know that I am interning full time at Whetstone and this is my first blog entry for the ranch.

Recently out here at Whetstone, we did a chapel study on how the difficulty of something usually correlates with how rewarding it is and how hard things are more rewarding than easy things. This study got me thinking about my time so far at Whetstone and how, relative to my past summer jobs, this job’s difficult nature has made it the most satisfying and edifying job I have ever had.

For example, each morning I have to wake up early to help get things going, and every night I have to stay up late to make sure the boys are in bed and that things are ready for the next morning. This cycle of early mornings and late nights has left me pretty exhausted. However, the early mornings allow me to cook, or to help cook, breakfast for the boys, a service that I take immense satisfaction in. These early mornings also allow me to read my Bible more than I would if I were working at another job. The late nights also hold a special treat for the staff members who work them.

In the twilight hours before lights out (anywhere between 10:00 and 11:00) the boys really open up about their views on life, God, drugs, alcohol, and girls. These are the hours when the most meaningful discussions take place. When the boys open up I get to hear and share worldviews with them, but these discussions, by the very nature that makes them so rewarding, are very hard. It is a fine line to walk between mentoring or controlling, correcting or condemning, and loving or judging. The hardest thing about these discussions is showing the boys love throughout the conversation. I know that makes me sound like a terrible person, but it’s the truth. It’s easy to come across as angry, condescending, or hateful when our discussions rise in intensity, but it’s hard to be patient, empathetic, and compassionate. It would be easy to simply be friends with the boys and blind myself to the problems in their lifestyles and beliefs, because they are pretty good kids, but it’s hard to separate myself from being just their friend and to become their mentor. It would be easy when they bring up tough topics to become apathetic or to give up on correcting a misinformed or illogical worldview when it seems that they are tuning me out, but it’s hard to see both sides of an argument and to continue to find ways of explaining things that both expose a lie while revealing Truth.

After each of these conversations I find myself lying in bed praying and contemplating something about my own nature that was revealed to me during the course of the discussion, and I always end by asking God for more patience and the right words for the next discussion. We are all being sharpened out here at Whetstone – some of us more than others – and this sharpening is really the hardest and most satisfying part of the job.