I got myself into a week (if I’m being honest, it’s closer to three weeks…) of chalked full of “stinkin thinkin.” I went to bed one night thinkin “if only these kids would listen to me, they would be happy, healthy, and thriving. They’re just makin it harder on themselves.” And I stopped dead in the middle of my pitty party and realized, You, Father, are scratching Your head, thinkin the very same thing about me.
Then, I caught myself thinkin: “there’s so much pain in the world around me and I feel like I will never be able to do enough on my own to even make a dent in it.” I realized right then and there, duhhhh foolish girl. That’s the point. I am not supposed to do this on my own. I am supposed to be obedient to You. YOU are The Way, The Truth, and The Life.
Lord, with therapeutic foster kids, I am the last stop before the hospital or juvy most of the time. And it is a terribly heavy burden. Because I am trying to pull all the stops and make all the last ditch efforts to throw a flag. And most, if not all, days, it feels like I am failing miserably. Because I cannot save any of them. I can’t save even one.
And I have folks in all directions tellin me what to do. Folks tellin me, I’m doin too much: just let the kids go to jail if that’s what they want. Literally, just let em go to jail. Folks tellin me, I’m not doin enough: just love them babies. Folks tellin me, I ask for help too much, while other folks tellin me, I don’t ask enough. I can’t please any of them.
Mary Marantz wrote in an article: “I want to remind you today, you were always the one asked to be faithful with the planting. But you were never the one with the power to make it grow.” Then: “We can plant the seeds in the ground, but we can’t go in and rip them open in the hopes of speeding up the process.”
My pastor said his favorite words are “I can’t.” For the life of me, I couldn’t understand that. All I could think was that I know I can’t, but we have to at least try to do some good. So, I started praying on it. The difference is trying to be like Jesus while knowing I am not You. We were saying the same things but there was something about what he said that I was just flat out missing. And I think it was the freedom in “I can’t” because You can. Whether I know how You are gonna do it or not.
When I am faced with anything, my first question is: how. I teach the kids, instead of complaining, tell me how you can fix it or how you can let it go. When pay day comes, it’s how are we gonna pay all these bills. When I turned 30 it was how am I gonna make it to 31. Turning 30 was not fun. I yelled. I disappointed folks. I lost my car keys and my patience. It was a hot mess of a day and I was uglyyy to literally everyone I saw. I kept tellin the kids I was 29 and if they called me 30, they were grounded. I kept telling em 31 would be fine, but not 30. They did not listen, obviously, and I still turned 30.
What I learned is that I cannot save those kids, no matter how hard I try or how much I try to carry the weight on the world on my shoulders. It is not my burden to bear. I cannot bear the weight of it, I will crumble and the beauty of it is that I do not have to carry it, You already did. When I pray that You break my heart for what breaks Yours. It means to open my eyes to the needs around me, not try to go save em myself. Because You, my almighty Father, are the only one capable of saving those kids, just like You saved me.
So, here is my prayer. Lord, I keep thinking I’m teaching these kids, but it’s really you teaching me. Father, there is no hurt you can’t heal. There is no hope without you. There is no joy without you. There is no salvation without you. There is no love without you. Lord, never let me forget to invite you into my little broken heart, my little broken world. Help me to show those kids who you are, because that is my only power and that is all you ever wanted from me. Lord take over my life. Consume my thought, my heart, my hands, my feet, my very breathe. Interrupt my routine. Break my heart for what breaks yours. Show me where to go and what to do. Lord, set my feet to dancing. I give you control, I am letting go. I trust you with my kids. With my relationships. With my family. With my finances. With my marriage. I do not know how you are going to do any of it, but boy howdy, I’m glad I get to watch you do it. It is a broken world, full of broken hearts and broken people, but it is also a miraculously beautiful life you’ve given me. Thank you for writing my story for my good and your glory in mind. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.