There is a young girl who is hanging out with us as we do NBC. She's not actually "attending" but she is. She comes when something interests her (she loves snacks, crafts and games...) but she hasn't been all that keen on worship or Bible sharing time. Today, though, she joined us for both - worship was right at the end and that was to bring one of the smaller children in and Bible time... well... Bible time. I watched her sit there on the couch looking bored and as if she wished she were a million miles away. "Anywhere but the living room right now..." All of the kids get a bit antsy. After all, it's sunny outside. They have just come in from games, had a short snack and they want to get back to the business of playing. But her face is different than their faces, set different - she not only isn't interested in what's being said, she thinks its presentation a bit, well, stupid (childish would probably work, too).
Elizabeth and I talked about it a bit today on the way home and I have to interject something here - Elizabeth is the Executive Director of Proverbs 31:20, she has been working with these women and their children for almost 10 years now. She was one of these children. She understands them in a way I can know of but can't know completely. There is ugliness in my childhood but I never wondered where I would sleep at night or who would be sleeping in my house or where my food would come from or any one of a thousand other fears. She is a beautiful, God-loving, God-serving woman who is wise with His wisdom and thoughtful in ways I only dream of being.
What Elizabeth feels is her grown-up-ness. In all that this little girl (who is 10, by the way and like a lot of 10 year olds loves horses and those shoes that have the wheels on the bottom...) has seen or experienced, she has had to grow up in ways I can't begin to imagine. It is fragmented, I've noticed - she is an awesome caretaker of the smaller ones, they look to her for things but she can set them aside and race against the boys like any other ten year old (the girls won today, by the way :) ) but if you try to talk to her as if she is a child, there is something in her that shuts down. Something that says "I don't have time for "fun" or "silly" or "goofy." Don't talk down to me, I am not a child." Life is too rough for that stuff and she hasn't been given a choice. Elizabeth made this point - it was her parents' job to protect her innocence and they failed. Whether is was by choice or circumstance, they failed. Whatever addiction held them, she has paid for it with a childhood interrupted.
It would be nice to say she's in a place of hope and that's true but as I type it and re-read it, it sounds so trite and so cliche. We pray over these women and their children - we pray that, since we know God can penetrate all the darkness they've seen, that they see Him and reach for Him. Today I pray that God shows us how we can reach through all of her darkness and show Him to a little ten year old girl who has, quite frankly, stolen hearts (at least mine). She doesn't much care to listen quite yet, it seems and that is breaking hearts. She isn't alone but I imagine there is a huge part of her that feels terribly alone. I pray God shows her that is never true and that she chooses to listen to Him.
Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.