Yesterday, in Mexico where I am teaching at a YWAM base, I went to a rescue home for labor trafficked girls from 6-8 years old and sex trafficked girls from about 10-20 years old for about 8 hours. Me any my team were giving a well deserved break to the ladies that worked there.
Putting these beautiful faces to an issue I have long cared about was both heartbreaking and hopeful, in that these girls still laugh and play and love despite the atrocities they have lived through.
After playing tag and cards and eating with them, they asked me if they could wash and cut my hair.
As I stuck my head under a sink with freezing cold water and had four little hands gently massaging my scalp and pouring shampoo over my head, I almost started weeping. One of these girls had burns on her arm where cigarette butts had been put out.
These hands had every right to bring violence to anyone they touched. It would be completely justified, as touch has been such a horrible part of their history.
And yet, here they were….Bringing healing with their touch. Touching each others hands as they sat and talked, their arms around each others’ shoulders. Touching my heart by welcoming me with such open arms. And then gently touching the head of a stranger as if I was their good friend.
As they washed my hair, these girls were draining the dirt off of my often apathetic heart. A heart that often only looks at pain when it is my own pain. That I often pay attention to only when it is my own small tragedy that I am praying about.
As has been pretty evident in my last few posts, I have been struggling a lot in these last few months. I have realized that I need to accept that I might not ever have children or a husband. It might not be true, but I feel like it is time to accept that it very well may be true.
But the hope of these girls, who still love those around them despite the incredible pain they have endured, is the fabric that heaven is made of. That hope softened my heart and helped me to see the power that God has to restore, to wash clean. I remembered for the first time in a while that I have a truly beautiful life, and I was thankful.
I was completely struck by this quote from Cheryl Strayed because it is so appropriate for what I am going through right now.
“Suffering is a part of life…I know that. You know that. I don’t know why we forget it until something truly awful happens to us, but we do. We wonder why me? and How can this be? and What terrible God would do this? The very fact that this has been done to me is proof that there is no God!
We act as if we don’t know that awful things happen to all sorts of people every second of every day and the only thing that’s changed about the world or the existence or non existence of God is that it happened to us…To use our individual good or bad luck as a litmus test to determine whether or not God exists constructs an illogical dichotomy that reduces our capacity for true compassion….it fails to acknowledge that the other half of rising- the very half that makes rising necessary- is having first been nailed to a cross.”
It is true: focusing completely on my pain deadens my capacity for compassion. To take on one another’s burdens like Jesus did will truly change our lives.
Today, on Thanksgiving, even though it is a lonely day without a family and is really difficult for me, I will look beyond my own pain and remember how truly blessed I am.
God soften my heart. Allow me to touch people in beautiful ways like this. Allow me to pray for pain even when it is not my own.