So it’s Thanksgiving week. Everyone seems to have spent the last few weeks focusing on the things they are thankful for: I’m thankful for my spouse, my kids, for rainbows and unicorns. But leave it to me to be thankful for the difficulties. For whatever reason I can’t allow myself to look around and be thankful for all that I have. In my saddistic manner, I challenge myself to bring out the rawness of the wounds of my childhood, so that I can find the silver lining, the God-movement, in the entirety of my life.
I love to recall how God has orchestrated the events of my life, while in part would sound like horrific sounds from the strings section, but together with the melodies of the remaining instruments forge the beauty of a complex, well created symphony. Such is my life.
I can recall my first encounter with a child who was hurting, and my souls desire to comfort her. I was five, and I lived in an apartment complex occupied by crazies–including my family. I must say, though, I myself was a suffering child. I was aware that I was living lost, but I’m not sure those around me did. Perhaps they did, but did not understand the affects of it on me–my life, from my perspective. But I myself was hurting, which I believe is another intricacy that fueled my passion, and at times, still does.
There was a family, a single mom, and two little girls, one in particular–if I shut my eyes really tightly, I can still see her face. She was probably 3 or 4. We all ran around the courtyard on the inner part of the complex, lots of kids, playing while our moms were working, or cleaning–some doing drugs or drinking, We made ourselves busy. These particular little girls had a mean mom. I remember her rage, her yelling. Her constant yanking of the arms. I didn’t have a mean mom, so I would just stare in ignorance.
One day, the little girl was crying. I was completely grossed out by the gunk that was running from her nose, but found myself caring more about the reasons for her cries. I’m not entirely sure what happened, but I was completely confident that she needed comfort and care, and I was just the person to give it to her. I sat with her on her steps, she lived in the upstairs apartment, two buildings down, facing the courtyard, just like us. I pulled her on my lap, and wrapped my five year old arms around her. Her head leaning on my chest, her hair in my face, my mind worried she would get gook on me. I just rocked her, gently shushing her, hoping she knew that everything was going to be okay. Perhaps, we were comforting one another.
Then she came out of nowhere. The crazy mom, who was definitely strung out on something, even if only the ramifications of a terrible life. And she yelled at me. I was five, comforting her snot-nosed, upset daughter and I got yelled at. I was told to never return, to stay away from her kids, to stop trying to help. She yanked her baby, in her special socket-pulling fashion and disappeared into her apartment, where cries were muffled.
I stood there on the stoop, confused and worried. What would happen to the little girl? A question I asked of my own life often enough. I walked down the stairs, and back into the courtyard of oblivion and played with all the other children who pretended that everything was okay,
And oddly enough I’m thankful for that moment. God created a compassion for the lost and hurting in me that fuels me forward to do work for his kingdom. I’m thankful for that encounter with a living Jesus, who I like to think, wrapped us both in his arms on the top of the staircase that day. I’m thankful for that, and for rasberry, white chocolate truffle cheesecake.