Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Am I There Yet?

The freeway went on for miles. It's amazing how enjoyable a road trip can be without a million stops for the bathroom & sans, "Are we there yet?" on repeat. Two empty car seats in the back & as many Starbucks drive thru's as we could stomach on a 6 hour drive. Just the two of us. 

"So, what exactly are we going to do?" He asked me from the driver seat. The sun beat down on my bare feat bugging him as they rested on the dash. 

"Well I have the schedule, but I don't really know what to expect," I replied. 

The husband & I were headed to Northern California to meet up with my grandparents & directors of a board called New Day for Children.

I come from a personal background that consists of a passion for the voiceless. It lead me to major in Women's Studies and pursue volunteer work with Women's Shelters and the like. I saw what New Day was about & accepted my Grandparent's offer to be on site with them. 

Away from the office and the daily grind,  my husband had the head & heart space to hear what we were doing. I read to him as the miles ticked by:
New Day for Children has taken a multi-faceted approach to meet the unique needs of the girls rescued, combining shelter, education and therapy to help heal mind, body and spirit. We provide education, restorative care and therapeutic services to girls’ ages 10-18 who have been victimized by Commercial Sexual Exploitation (CSE). Our goal is to care for the girls and help them recapture their childhoods, while building their self- esteem and confidence.
We heard the words, we gasped at the stories, we broke the silence of our own thoughts with made up games: "What would you do if you won this week's mega million?" (This is a game I love to play with my best friend, too).

We arrived in the brown, dry face of Northern California early that evening to stretch our legs & eat dinner with my Grandparents before a day ahead coming face to face with the strongest girls I have ever. ever. met.

There's something that happens for me in the wake of knowing I am about to have my heart changed forever; I go numb. It's as if the anticipation of the unforeseen trumps all of my ability to imagine. 

I lay awake that night with the TV tuning out my thoughts just enough to hear only my mind's thundering whispers. Since March of this year, God has been working in me and with me on some pending questions: what on earth was my over priced education all about? Why do I have a passion for the problem of the voiceless if it's one that scares my husband? How am I supposed to use that soft spot in my heart for His kingdom as a mom and a wife? And then there were the questions I wasn't....I am not...ready to ask still because I know how my Father works. He is good and He is merciful. He waits for me to make the ask & when I overcome my own fear, He answers. 


Morning broke & my stomach growled. I battled the blackout curtains & my sweet husband,

"Just five more minutes," I begged.

I needed five more minutes to pretend that I had any speck of understanding of these girls pasts. I needed five minutes to buckle before Jesus, 

"Father, you KNOW me. You KNOW what I'm doing right now. I'm shutting it off to survive what will break my heart. Help me see these girls not for their broken past but for their daunting ability to survive the unsurvivable!"


The ride into the undisclosed location was informative. We asked questions of the Founding Directors about the girls, their current home, & the program.  Our days plan included lunch with the girls in the mess hall, a tour of the grounds, & dinner in town with the girls {*Which is a really, really big treat for them}. Somewhere in there I would have the chance to teach them how to do Jamberry Nails. 

I imagined our visit must make the girls feel like fish.  There they are swimming in a fish bowl with spectators eyeing them building the glass partition of normal life deeper between them & the outside world. I wanted....I needed....to bring that wall down. I could not bring myself to stare as an outsider. I wanted them to know they could just be.

Those girls changed my heart. I choked down the knot in my throat the whole day. There was the unspoken between us that Nails & being a girl overrode; they weren't broken to me, they were like me. They laughed with each other, asked me which nail wraps would be best, were right at my side asking me to help them, asking about my life, asking one to do their hair and another to fix their eyebrows, 

"Do these shoes look good with these jeans?" one asked

"Oh, sorry!" one apologized as her braids hit me in the face as she turned.

"Don't be sorry! I'm jealous your hair is that long," I laughed back. 

I was as familiar as the chairs they sat on that day. Needed yet unnoticed. Thank you, Jesus. 


I haven't known how to process everything I still feel. The knot is still sitting in my throat taunting me, "LET IT OUT". But I'm not there yet. 

One of the most fascinating things that one of the Director's shared with me was this, 
We encourage the girls to find one person in the program they trust to tell their story too. Other than that, they keep their past as a part of their therapy and their life in the program focused on feeling again, even if it's anger, and building the courage to hope and dream for their future
As I sat with a dear friend today over coffee processing how God works, what He calls us each into, & what we are supposed to do with that,  I thought again about that statement and wondered:

WHO WOULD I BE IF I stopped worrying about people needing to know where my feet have walked? 
WHO WOULD I BE IF I just allowed myself to rest in what I say Jesus has done: renewed & reawakened me.
WHO WOULD I BE IF I just focused on living out my present & my future. 

WHO WOULD I TELL PEOPLE I AM if I couldn't tell them who I was?


For more information on New Day for Children 
or to donate to their efforts