I’d Never Been So Honored To Be In Handcuffs

I’d never been so honored to be in handcuffs.

Training for YouthWorks is a bit daunting, but the staff do as much as they can to make the experience enjoyable and memorable—impromptu dance parties, surprise Disney ballads, occasional worship sessions, and a plethora of other activities. During the training week, much of your training is done alongside others in your role (i.e. Kids Club, Work Projects, et cetera). Something the staff does each year to commemorate the end of role training and make the experience memorable is to hold a sort of graduation ceremony. At the Kids Club graduation, my counterparts and I received a plastic sheriff badges, which would be a more realistic depiction of our role than most of us would realize at that time. Throughout the summer, I proudly wore that sheriff badge alongside my staff ID on my lanyard.

KIDSCLUBBINGI soon thereafter became the sheriff in Logan. The Kids Club was difficult as most of the audience had outgrown the curriculum I’d been equipped with. While most Kids Clubs are geared for children aged 5-10, more than half our kids were 12-13. But we proverbially shoved square pegs into round holes, and I became sheriff.

Most of my time was spent either disciplining older kids or building positive relationships with them so as to avoid discipline. Consequently, I had to make a concerned effort to spend time with the younger kids. The programming was built for them, but my time was decidedly lopsided the other way.

One of these younger kids was named Billy. Billy was outgoing and creative and had the thickest West Virginia accent I had ever heard. He’d always show me any art that he was working on or any news ideas he had. I listened as much as I could but it seemed as though every time Billy approached me something else drew me away. I felt bad neglecting the kid so much.

Billy didn’t seem to notice much though. He would capture my attention for brief moments and cherish it. One day, Billy noticed the sheriff badge I had been proudly wearing for several weeks and decided he was going to bring his handcuffs the following day.

I’ve always had an irrational thought that once Kids Club ended each day, memories of the past four hours were wiped from the minds of the children. In actuality it’s a ludicrous notion, but I had difficulty imagining that kids would think about Kids Club or myself at all once they’d left.
But Billy brought his handcuffs. He remembered me.

As soon as he tumbled out of the van he promptly locked my hands together.

Small actions like that broke down doubt and gave me glimpses of the small impact I was making. I don’t know that I “changed lives,” per se. But I built relationships—ones that existed apart from physical manifestations of one another and live in thoughts and memories.

These kids dominated my thoughts every day. How was I going to build relationships with them? How am I going to minister to them? How are we going to handle discipline? What is the best way to share Christ with them? How many hours of basketball practice do I have to put in to be able to keep up with them?

In a small way, Billy showed me that they thought about me too.

And I’d never been so honored to be in handcuffs.

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