By Sonya Laughlin
The other day while supervising a boys’ resident hall with my husband, a very unique and touching incident occurred. Several months ago a family of four came to TCM. The youngest, Jay, touched my heart from the very beginning. He was very troubled and was extremely angry at being placed at the Mansion. He would ram his fists into walls, was very defiant with authority figures, and did poorly in school. He roamed the campus looking for a fight as a way to vent his anger. To see this young man now, you would never believe that this is the same boy.
The reason that I was so touched by Jay is because his family and I have history.
Over 20 years ago, on my first day at Bible School, I met his Aunt who was assigned to be my roommate. She was very quiet and reserved, would not make eye contact, and often walked up against the hallway walls so that she wouldn’t have to make human contact with anyone. To say that she was backward would be a gross understatement. All of my questions were answered with a few words that she could muster, and for the first few weeks of school we were absolutely miserable in each other’s company. In the weeks that followed, she began to open up to me more and more, an occurrence for which I was thrilled because I had determined to make her my “project.” I would make this girl talk to me. We would become friends. And we did. Twenty years later, we still chat on facebook, and I will always count her as a dear friend, although our lives have gone in different directions.
Although many years had passed when these four precious children came to call TCM home, I immediately felt a kindred spirit with them. I noticed familiar mannerisms and character traits that I had witnessed several years before in their aunt. The amazing part was that they had never actually met their aunt. She had moved away before they were born, and the family did not keep in contact.
As Jay and I sat on the couch the other day looking through a Ripley’s Believe It or Not book, I couldn’t help but think back, wondering if this was God’s plan all along, and that my encounter of over twenty years ago brought me here at this time and this place to be a help to this precious young man. As we “oohed and aahd” over each picture and took turns reading the captions under each, I was touched to my very core. Here I sat, on the couch with Jay chatting away. He is happy, well adjusted, and has done so well in recent months that he is now part of our Mansion Tour Group. Gone is the intense anger and now he greets everyone with a smile.
My history with this family has come full circle. The groundwork that was laid so many years ago has somehow touched the future. I could not be happier to be a part of what God can and will do if we will allow ourselves to be used. As Jay walked away from our time on the couch, he said “I love you, Sis. Laughlin.” Those simple words from a once very troubled, angry young man make all the work that we do here worthwhile.