(Faith Girl’s Post of Tuesday, Tears from a Child, prompted me to share this)
The span of years between us wasn’t great—a mere ten years--but 14 seemed a lifetime away from 24, which is how old I was when I found myself teaching a class of 11 to 14 year old girls.
I can’t remember how I came to be their teacher. Probably a teacher was needed and I volunteered, willing to be used, even though teaching was way out of my comfort zone and not my area of gifting at all. God made up for my lack of teaching ability by giving me a love for those girls though. If I close my eyes I can see their faces now. It felt like a great privilege to have an opportunity to make a difference at an age that was so vulnerable—a time of transition from girlhood to womanhood.
Over the years that followed, one girl stayed in touch faithfully . She hadn’t fit the mould of the typical, pretty teenaged girl. Tall, large boned and awkward and a little rough around the edges—a bit of a misfit—the kind of kid I've always had a special place in my heart for.
I followed her life journey with interest--a job--then a boyfriend, who sounded like a nice guy. She got married, had kids, and started a successful business.
Then one day, out of the blue, she told me something that broke my heart. The girl who sat in my Sunday School class with other girls discussing things like peer pressure, how to honour your parents when they're driving you crazy, and how to share God with your friends, was experiencing a nightmare at home. A friend of her father’s was abusing her. She described seeing his car pull into their long driveway, the crunch of the gravel as it wove its way towards the house--her feeling of being trapped with nowhere to go--and the depression and suicidal thoughts that set in. She said that often she would sit in her bedroom, thinking of ways to kill herself--a kid--by poking something metal into an electrical outlet, but something would stop her--a fragile, tenuous thread held her back. It was the thought, " They love me at Sunday School. If I did this, they would be so upset.They would miss me."
I cried when she told me and my heart felt so heavy—it was devastating to think of how oblivious I was to the pain she was in.
She said she didn’t mean to make me feel bad, she just felt she had to tell me.
I didn't hear much from her after that and we've lost touch in recent years. It was as if telling me was part of letting it go.
I learned that we never know from outward appearances, the pain in someone's life and that God can use us to make a difference even in our inadequacy. Sometimes knowing just one person cares is enough to hold back the darkness.