Northland, the church we attend recently started a program for single Mom's who need a helping hand. There are stipulations , but essentially their babies/toddlers can be taken care of in a state of the art day care center where loving hands will nurture them. The mothers have to either be enrolled in school or working and have certain classes they must attend at Northland. The goal is to equip these young women to become better mothers.
Opportunities exist for those in our community to help ...you can sign up to help with child care or mentor the young women whose children are enrolled in the program...as much as I love babies, I chose mentoring. So, for the past month another Counselor and I have been meeting with a young woman who has a one year old daughter.
I missed two weeks of mentoring as we were on vacation one week and then the next week had to scurry around to pick up medical records for my husband's impending surgery. Last week we got to meet and she gave me a big hug when I met her in the hallway and then once we were inside the counseling room asked me,"did you miss me?"
This young woman has been hurt deeply by her mother who is now deceased and a step-father. She was abandoned by the babies father as soon as he found out she was pregnant and has seen people come and go from her life on a regular basis. I understood why she was asking, "did you miss me?"
So often as I have sat and listened to her stories it has brought me back to memories of my own teenage years...years when I felt abandoned, lost, and so very confused. I wanted to believe there was someone out there who loved me and who would miss me if they didn't see me. Sometimes, I felt invisible and so I understand her heart, her longing, her need to be loved and accepted right where she is.
I assure her that yes, I missed seeing her...hearing her stories, listening to how she is processing life and most of all I missed the joy she brings into our sessions. We encourage her to set weekly goals, to spend time with the Lord, and to have safe friends who she can journey through this season with. Last week, she blessed us with her story of how she had met a friend at church and she and this new girlfriend took her daughter to the zoo and then to Steak and Shake. She told us it was difficult coming out of her comfort zone (staying at home) but how much she enjoyed it once she allowed herself to.
When you have lived most of your young life being hurt by the people you thought were supposed to love, nurture and protect you walls are erected around your heart and often those walls are slow to come down. In His Word God tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves...it all begins with loving Him first.
I usually close our sessions with prayer and last week I thanked God for this sweet young woman whose heart is now connected to mine...as I prayed I thanked God for the joy she brings into my life and for the joy that radiates from her heart. When I finished praying for her she had tears running down her cheeks and as she came over to give me a hug she said, "no one has ever told me I give them joy."
Indeed it always is more of a blessing to give than to receive. Who can you bless today?