It was the sprinkles scattered on the bathroom floor that broke her. Sprinkles that tell of a story other than a typical child sneaking a sweet treat. Sprinkles that call to remembrance the crackers stored between the trash can and the washing machine, cereal stashed in a treasure box, and countless other scenarios. Scenarios that bring to mind a picture of a tiny child. Much too tiny of a child. A child, a baby, forced to forage for food. For any kind of sustenance.
She knelt down to pick up the blue, green, and purple confetti-like objects, twisting the cap back on the bottle, and the tears just started to flow. The weeks of weight were finally catching up. The weariness, the worry, the fear. All the emotions she had been pushing through and pushing down all came flooding into her memory. Pictures. Stories. Watching pain of the past wear down on the precious children in her care.
The hard look in a child’s eyes when corrected. The hard look that you know is rooted in fear. Fear of a punishment or rejection that no child should’ve ever experienced.
The sound of fists pounding a bed late at night. The outward expression of the anger and anxiety created by insecurity.
The flinch of beautiful eyes when she reaches to brush a hair back into place. A child still unconsciously trained to protect herself when a hand is too near.
Sitting helplessly angry while listening to professionals and parents calling in from a jail make decisions for a child she daily loves and lives for.
Long phone calls with various offices trying to get the medical help needed for a child who simply isn’t developing well. Wading through an overly complex system just to receive quality care for her child.
And the tears just kept coming. She felt all the weight pulling her down. Literally forcing her shoulders to bow beneath the heaviness. Sobbing. Thankful that she had pulled the bathroom door shut behind her. Thankful that the children were occupied. Thankful that in this sudden moment of utter weakness, she was able to grieve privately.
If you were to ask her, she would quickly be able to list for you all the fears. All the struggles. All the obstacles her children were facing. She has learned the children in her care. Watched them grow and struggle. Been there for the midnight outbursts. The night terrors. The moments of intense vulnerability when a child shares heartbreaking secrets. She has seen the triggers that cause pain to flit across their faces. She has held little hands that tighten involuntarily when approaching certain places or doorways. She knows. She sees. And she is helpless.
The tears continue to flow as she begins to cry out in anguish. Questions that are ripped from spaces deep inside her mind. Spaces that are guarded by strength, now pushed open in weakness.
“What do I do?”
“How can I help them?”
“Can love really heal?”
“Why? Why do horrible things happen to innocent children?”
Kneeling there. Sitting in absolute brokenness. There is nothing in her that can heal or save these children. She has no magic abilities. No healing touch. No perfect words or reactions. Only brokenness.
“Where can I find help when there is no one to turn to?”
Jesus. The name whispers into her mind and tiny waves of peace begin to wash across her pain.
Jesus. The ultimate innocent sufferer. The one who understands and has experienced so much pain.
Jesus. The living Savior who intercedes when His children don’t know the words to say.
Jesus. The one who reigns. The one who is coming back to set all things right.
Jesus. The one who will wipe away every tear.
She dries her eyes and makes her way to the other room. Just standing in the doorway she studies each of the precious faces as they are turned upwards, captivated by a cartoon.
She sits down and pulls one child into her lap. Stroking her hair. Whispering words of love. And in her mind she prays over this child. Pleading words. Words of blessing. Whispered promises. Remembering the One who knows true brokenness and gives true healing.
She moves to the next child.
Then the next.
And the next.
Sitting. Praying. Loving. In brokenness.
Resting. Remembering. Trusting. In brokenness.
Knowing. Believing. Choosing. Faith. In brokenness.
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit…
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him…
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them…
The eyes of the Lord are towards the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry…
The righteous cry and the Lord hears…
Oh taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”