Elly Lemons Learns “Tough Love”

Humbly let go.  Let go of trying to do, let go of trying to control… let go of my own way, let go of my own fears.  Let God blow His wind, His trials, oxygen for joy’s fire.  Leave the hand open and be.  Be at peace.  Bend the knee and be small and let God give what God chooses to give because He only gives love and whisper surprised thanks.  This is the fuel for joy’s flame.  Fullness of joy is discovered only in the emptying of will.  And I can empty.  I can empty because counting His graces has awakened me to how He cherishes me, holds me, passionately values me.  I can empty because I am full of His love.  I can trust.

– “One Thousand Gifts”

Living in Jamaica for almost eight months has given me such an incredible sense of joy and for that I have to give God thanks.  One of the places I have found the most joy as well as the most frustration is at St. John Bosco Boys Home.

Last week I came to Bosco on a Tuesday afternoon.  I didn’t have an agenda, which is sometimes nerve-racking because they always want me to train them in football; I simply just came to hang out.  When I first arrived I heard drums, and I got EXCITED.  There is a group of boys at Bosco who are the drumming boys.  Most of these boys are the ones with a lot of anger, so drumming is a perfect way to let the frustrations out.  I have sat in on drum class a few times, but I have always been too hesitant to try and drum.  However, when the boys were arranging their chairs and getting their drums out, one of them asked me if I was going to drum with them.  Why not?  So I sat in the circle with them with my own drum.  I had no idea what I was doing.  The boys figured that out real fast.  I was definitely “marching to the beat of my own drum” … literally.  Most of them told me I was horrible or were laughing at me.  Good news, though, is I was laughing right there with them.  Drumming is HARD.  The teacher taught me a few things and I was able to keep up at times, but it was difficult. It’s hard to describe in words, but even though most of them were poking fun of me I could tell that they were doing it playfully and were happy I was there with them.  The love I receive here is such a tough form of love, but I still feel it and it gives me joy.



A picture one of the boys took before class started… The laughs began even before I got my drum.

While there are good days, such as last Tuesday, they are usually followed by equally difficult days. You want to know what is so strange though?  I continually hunger for more.  I may leave there feeling defeated, but as I lay in bed before I fall asleep I am filled with this energy and desire to return. Maybe it is the love I so quickly developed for all of the boys. I am there as a P.E. teacher and as a football coach, but what I really want is for them to see me as their friend who they can trust.

All I can do is continue to show up and just be. Just be myself and just be present.  Let go of my fears of some of the boys not liking me because I have to be strict at times. Let go of trying to control when most of the time what happens at Bosco is out of my control.  Just humbly let go so God can direct me and use me as His instrument at this home that feels like my own home.

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