Tuesday, February 10, 2009

J

There's a 15 year old girl in my Monday night group who haunts me. I know that sounds strange, but of all the girls, she is the one I think of most frequently. I am more burdened for her specifically than some of the others. It is not that her story is significantly worse than those of the other girls, it is just that over the 3 years that I have known her, I have watched her countenance change negatively. I have watched this once giggly, shiny, silly 12 year old become a sad, gloomy, insecure 15 year old--and it worries me.

Most of this change is due to the fact that she has been bounced from the group home, back with family, in a foster home and back to the group home in 3 years' time. You can see the feelings of rejection written all over her face. When she shares, even though it is rarely about her feelings, hurt emanates from her. She is a shrugger and a mumbler. She hides behind her hair. I have really felt led to reach out boldly to her in the last couple of months with hugs and I love yous. She barely moves in response.

My heart is broken for J.

Week after week she shows up for Bible Study, but I cannot get a read for what she thinks about all this God talk. Last night, she cracked a little and said she didn't think God was dependable. She shared her trouble following a God who won't answer the one prayer she has been asking over and over for years. She did not share what the request was, but I knew it likely involved returning to be with her mentally ill, drug addicted mother and siblings who live with another relative.

I recounted a portion of the Andy Stanley sermon we had heard Sunday regarding how we so often make God a low priority in our daily lives, yet have no qualms about running to Him for crisis intervention once things get out of control. I asked her if she felt like she was 'seeking God first' or running to Him as a last resort. She admitted it was definitely the latter. I challenged the group to answer a powerful question Francis Chan poses in Crazy Love: Can you follow a God who does what He pleases, rather than just what you want Him to do?

I wondered later if I had gone too deep. Had my response seemed calloused? I cannot explain God--especially to these girls who have seen and experienced more pain, abuse and rejection in their lives than I can comprehend. Yet, I feel strongly I should shoot straight with these girls. It is not my place to sugar coat the Gospel.

This afternoon I got a call from the woman who runs the home. J's mother had failed another drug test. It was her final strike. Her parental rights were going to be terminated. J. will now become a ward of the state for the next 2 1/2 years (until 18) with no hope for reunification.

An hour or so later I got a call from J. She sounded much softer than she had last night.
"Ms. Jennifer, remember how I asked about that prayer God wouldn't answer. He answered it today. He told me "No."

I ran by the home (kids in tow) to just give her a hug.We talked for a few minutes about how even a 'No' is better than no answer at all sometimes because it allows us to get out of neutral and move forward. She was clearly sad and bewildered about what her future will now hold. Yet, somewhere in her face and countenance I sensed some relief.

And tonight I am a little bewildered...
Wondering how on Earth I got plunked down in the middle of a ministry for which I am so ill-equipped.
Trusting God to fill me with His Love for girls who so desperately need it.
Cognizant that these are just a handful whose stories I know.
Realizing our world is a battlefield filled with wounded foot soldiers...some just do a better job of hiding their wounds than others.
Amazed that I serve a loving Father who is big enough to somehow redeem it all.

19 comments:

Prairie Rose said...

I will pray for J. Right now.

Tee said...

How I identify with your feeling of being plunked down into the middle of something you feel so ill-equipped to handle. God often stretches us to our limits in order to grow us, but in the process it seems so difficult and often painful. We can only cling to Him in the process.

Mountain Girl said...

Maybe this is your opportunity to adopt J and give her 2 1/2 years of love in a "normal" family....just a thought!

Mandi said...

I admire the work you are allowing God to do through you. These girls that are so hurt and broken need God's love poured into their lives.

Just prayed for J.

Tonya Ingram said...

That's a thought Mountain Girl! It's almost insane how God plunks us down into something like this... something we have no clue about... almost hilarious, huh... but also something that can only by His leading will bring HIM the glory! God already has it all planned out and using you to get there! As time passes you will look back and see the changes you've made in these young girls lives and all you will be able to do is give Him all the Glory!!!

Megan @ Hold it Up to the Light said...

No, no dear friend....you are NOT 'ill-equiped', you are right. where. you. need. to. be.

Colored With Memories said...

i think it is good you didn't sugar coat anything...if you do that now, it will only make them doubt Him later. i think it will be easier for them to trust a God whose character is known to them.

hang in there, you are doing a wonderful job!

Ashley said...

Praying for J and I know she is very thankful to have you in her life. The Lord equips us even when we don't think he has. I know that all to well! Thanks for sharing!

Blessings,
Ashley

Matt and Amy Snow said...

What a timely post for me tonight. He is teaching me SO much about Himself, His sovereignty, His mercy, and my need for Him. I ask for your prayers as "my" foster child "J" (and how ironic that her name really does start with a J :) ) goes to see for her first visit with her mom out of prison tomorrow. My heart is breaking for "my J", my eyes are tired of crying, my head is swimming with what if's countered by thoughts captive to His promises.
It IS tough to follow when I don't get the answer I want, especially when it involves a precious soul. But, knowing how loving and how faithful He is remains my comfort! Much too long of a comment---so sorry. Nutshell--pray for "woo" (and me) tomorrow am. To Him be the glory!
amy

Karen said...

Feeling ill-equip leaves us with no where else to turn but to God. We cannot always be everything we want to be for a certain person, but being there geninuely, perhaps ill-equiped stills leave us there to serve. Remember some of the most important people in our lives are the people who didn't have to be there but chose to be!!

Leigh Hall said...

I feel connected to "J" and the other girls in your group. I'm sure I can relate to some of what they're dealing with. Reading about the hug you DROVE over to give her (kids in tow!), reminds me of those precious few occasional hugs I got from well-meaning non-family members. Keep loving on her. As I think about the love from my childhood, I cling to the memories of people like you. And I am a Christian because of one of those women in particular. You are doing a wonderful thing. Many blessings to you.

Peter and Nancy said...

God bless you as you love J well. I also have memories of another family who showed me a different way to live than I witnessed in my own alcoholic family. Your actions are speaking loudly, even if you're not always sure what to say. (And what you're saying is right on -- no sugar coating! These girls, who have been so hurt, will smell that a mile away.)

You may have heard this before, but God does not call the equipped . . . he equips the called. Thank you for answering the call.
-- Nancy

Mod Girl said...

Thank you for sharing this... a poignant reminder to me that we are called to love and serve others in His name, and to do it with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. In our weaknesses we are made strong through Him, I have no doubt that He is using you.

And for J, I will pray.

dee said...

Praying for you and J.

Traci said...

Oh how I wish someone could fix this for her. I just keep going back to the knowledge that God's immediate "no" is always used for an eternal "yes". I will pray for her- tell her she's covered in prayer. I will pray for you as well- you'll never be ill-equipped as long as you're walking right beside Him.

Amazing Racer said...

He is equipped. I will be praying for J.

Isabella said...

I think that just being a consistent presence in the lives of these girls speaks to them more than any words can (I volunteer with inner-city children and I have found that to be true). So glad that you are the arms of God to hug J.

Danielle said...

Once again, thank you for your commitment to these girls. I have been continuously praying for J since I read your post and whether or not you see the fruit of your investment in her, you are making a huge difference in this girls life.

Mindy said...

What a blessing you are to them. I work in an urban school and I am much like you in that I feel very ill-equipped. How do you change a life when sometimes it seems to late. Good thing God is a big God.