Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Call

The cell service was intermittent, only allowing me to hear every other word at best.  A raspy voice was on the other end. The young woman overused the word "like" in her nervousness. I engaged in the back-and-forth of: "can you hear me?...hello?...oh, wait, there! I can hear you, now!" Eventually one of us entered an area where the service was much better. The conversation kept it's awkward cadence, but continued.

The voice on the other end bled with emotion. This sweet girl, that was now on the line and grasping for words, had a love repellent so highly developed and unlike any I had ever experienced. She consistently repelled people and love out of her abandonment and grief. She was not a mean or violent person. She was a child, whose brokenness had left her so desperate and alone that she could not afford herself the luxury of any other emotion besides anger. You see, other emotions leave you vulnerable and open to more pain. But not anger. Anger builds walls of false security. Walls that masquerade as safety. This empty sense of control, in reality, is a lonely place riddled with sorrow. When anger is consistently indulged, you become confined within it's unforgiving fortress and you feel utterly helpless to free yourself. Trapped. When anger is your bully, you enter a cycle that robs you of love and dismantles your hope.

The brave caller simply needed to hear me say the words: "I forgive you." I quickly explained that I loved her, and that forgiveness was not needed. I went on to tell her that I thought of her often and only with fondness. She was unhindered in her quest for the phrase that would be a balm to her weary heart. She was unrelenting. I acquiesced. "Yes. Of course I forgive you" I said.  She exhaled loudly, and seemed quite unaware of it.

I went on to make small talk and ask about her life and goals. She talked about meeting siblings that she never knew she had. She talked about her new apartment. It was lovely to hear her speak with a smile. She aged out of Michigan's foster care system, and her reference to that milestone was revealing. She said with a haunting pride (pride in the fact that she "made it" and the system didn't kill her - not all foster youth are so lucky fortunate) "I'm free now, Miss Maggie!".  I lovingly added (not revealing the lump in my throat), "Yes, I know, honey. I'm proud of you."

As we wrapped up the small talk, she seemed uneasy. Something hung in the air and I waited for it to unfold. She sped up the gate of her conversation and sounded like someone who was very serious about their pending request. She began to talk about the promotional video for the House of Providence that was online. She sputtered a jumble of words that I listened to intently. She begged me not to EVER take the promotional video off of the internet. She explained to me that we were the only family that she had ever really experienced. The video was what "tucked her in" every night. She spent time with us, her family, each night by watching the video and then (and only then) was she able to drift off to sleep. "If you take it down, I won't be able to go on." This was not a dramatization. This was a fact. I promised. She relaxed.

After I hung up the phone, I thought back to the times when, as a young child, I would lay and wait for my mom and dad to come to my room. I fought against that sleep so hard. I didn't want to miss their hug or kiss and the comforting "tuck-in". I think of all of the children who wait tonight, with no parent on their way. I think of the children who lay alone in bed, and alone on this planet. Lord Jesus, tuck them in tight and bathe their minds with Your comfort. Thank you for letting us be Your hands and arms to tuck in those that we can.