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.