So, I’m a crier. This should not be news to anyone who knows me, and it’s mostly thanks to my mom’s genes. But it’s undeniable, I cry a lot. This job, working with hurting children, hardly seems to be a great place for such an emotional person. Yet, here I am.
I’ve told many stories about the kids in our home, and too many of them involve me crying or explaining how hard I cried in the moment. Tears fill my eyes often as I hear personal accounts of abuse and neglect. The kids we care for are experiencing something that God never intended for them. Many days, as I struggle to keep my emotions in check, it’s hard not to see them as a weakness. It’s very common for me to come back from bedtime prayers to ask my husband through my tears, “Jonathon, why is it so hard? Why do I just cry? I just bawled my eyes out with them.” While a personal struggle with depression along with genetics can put my emotions close to the surface, I always wonder why it’s so hard to control the tears. One day, God opened my eyes and answered my questions.
As I was cleaning that big ‘ol, beautiful house we live in, I was thinking and praying for the kids that were currently in our care. It is very busy and chaotic when there are 8-10 children in one place, as you can imagine. So, while I would like to think that I use each interaction to be a spiritual presence or to impart wisdom or listen to every thought, I learned from week one that it’s nearly impossible! I’ve learned to be reflective and prayerful as I clean, without the children around. As I check their rooms, finish their forgotten laundry, and wipe their darling handprints from EVERYTHING, I think of how precious each life is that runs through the hallway with their dirty shoes on. It’s in those moments I pray for God to bring them peace and understanding, for Him to calm their anxious thoughts, and to keep them safe from the toxic memories they hold. One particular day, I was praying and crying (obviously). I had a moment of annoyance for my tears, but God brought to mind a prayer I have prayed, written, and sang many times over: “Break my heart for what breaks Yours.’ He silenced me. Right there. Boom. He has answered my prayer. He has called me to it. He provided such a humbling job to live it. My heart breaks for each life under our roof, and I follow my human nature to be aggravated by the inconvenience of my emotions. I see my gift of empathy as a fault. I complain about my uncomfortability. But why? I care for God’s own children that have been overlooked and abandoned and mistreated. THAT BREAKS GOD’S HEART. The injustice, the drugs, the strangers, the poverty, the trauma that these kids have endured truly is heartbreaking. He wants to rescue them from the hell that they live in. He wants to bring them to a safe place. He wants to show them what redemption looks like. So He starts with me. God begins by opening my eyes to see what He sees. From what I know of God, there is no doubt He weeps when He sees what my kids have lived through.
Since we began our time at Thornwell, Jonathon and I have both felt honored that God would place us in such a position to practically and daily be His hands and feet. Why then do I let my insecurity of easily triggered emotions and empathy interfere with the job God has clearly called me to? Before I realized, yet again, that God knew what He was doing when He placed us as Family Teachers, my emotions were an insecurity. It only took 7 months for me to finally see that His heart is at the core of my tears. He has allowed my heart to break, chosen me to carry His burden for the voiceless.
Since I have embraced my empathetic tendencies and tears, I have seen His healing power work through me. He has shown me how helpful it can be to kids who are so scared in a new place and so overwhelmed to be away from familiar surroundings to have someone cry with them. I can give comfort through my hugs and tears as they struggle with thoughts like ‘I just wanna see Mom’ or ‘Can’t I just talk to my mom? Does she know where I am?’ or ‘Do I have to go to another new school? I don’t want to meet more new people.’ I easily picture myself in their situation, and then I’m gone. I cry for the things they don’t understand and the things they do. I cry about the loss they feel and for the changes they’re about to experience. I weep for them because God is weeping. I am humbled that God would call me to nurture, cry with, and mother kids that need it most.
To God be the Glory.