As we drove down sidestreets, we wove in and out to avoid debris and poorly parked clunkers. I am great at small talk, and I engaged this girl relentlessly. She has been at House of Providence for almost a year, and knows me well enough to know that resisting my chit-chatting is pointless.
She has known rejection so deep, that I don't have words to properly sort it for you. She has exhibited a courage so great, that she, quite literally, left it all on the court (or in the courtroom, as the case may be). This six month long excercise in bravery, that her life circumstances had forced her into, had left her so depleted, that she hardly had a will to live. We watched her constantly to ensure that she was safe from her own hand. Giving up is not an option at House of Providence, even if we have to carry them for a period of time.
I tend to be a little "Pollyanna" and I am aware that it can be obnoxious. I am constantly searching for even the tiniest sign of sunshine in the darkest storms. Some days hope is all we have. Normally, I'm pretty good at dragging our sweet girls into my hope filled, sappy ways. This particular day as we "shot the breeze", the weather was just becoming tepid. All of Detroit was emerging from the slumber of winter and spring was teasing us with beautiful days at least once a week. As we drove, I put the windows down and let the fresh breeze blow through her hair that stretched all the way down her back. She also has these sweet, short, curly little wispy hairs that frame her face, and rest on her head like a crown.
As we drove and enjoyed the wind on our faces, I could smell smoke from people burning leaf piles in their yards. Nostalgically, I commented on the smell that was impossible to miss. "Oh, that smell reminds me of campfires and Smore's!"
She looked at me wide-eyed, speaking to me before her voice even gave sound. Sadly, she recalled: "it reminds me of when we lived in an abandoned house that burned down."
I was slapped out of Pollyanna-land, and into the painful reality that so many of our girls live in. Our frame of reference and perspective shape everything. Our senses don't forget. I am constantly reminding myself that behavior always performs a function; that there is a reason our girls act and react in the way that they do. I try to remember this so that grace can flow more easily from my reactions. Sometimes keeping up with their "whys" can be exhausting and sometimes it can be downright confusing. But, I have come to realize, that the way I react and my frame of reference for life is just as confusing for them. If I can step out of my ego-centric view of the world long enough, I might just be able to see it "their way" and react with empathy and understanding.