When I initially started working for this amazing Christian Company called Fresh Start in April last year, I was super excited. I knew it was divine! To be able to teach and mentor disengaged, marginalised kids on a one to one basis, through creativity and love – I was like HELLO GOD JOB! So imagine my total heartbreak when I meet my pupil on day one and find she is crazy wild, violent beyond comprehension and pretty much uncontrollable…she can’t talk, is only 6 years old and needs two adults to restrain her whenever she loses the plot which is about four times a day. I think I was in shock for the rest of the month trying to come to terms with what I had let myself in for. But you see as much as I totally hated the job, as much as I was daily punched, kicked, spat at and violated by my little princess - walking away just wasn’t an option. The company told me hands down she was the worst case they had every experienced. Yet giving up on her just wasn't a liberty I could exercise. Learning how to love her with God’s love despite her seemingly unloveableness was my only way forward. And as torturous and let’s keep it real, as life threatening as it was working with the little lollipop, I got through each moment only by leaning into God like never before, being upheld up by His strength and limitless grace day by day and by learning how to let the purging have it’s way. I believe I finished well - somehow I made it through the four months and my girl was placed in the right school for her needs so she went on to be well looked after. I, on the other hand ran as far away as I possibly could from Fresh Start, because my wounds were so raw and needed to heal. I needed time to recover from what I can only describe as one of the most painful assignments of my life.
I wondered what it had all been about – why had it been so very painful an experience and then nothing more seemed to come of it. My heart had closed once again to working with kids and although I was so sure it had been a God thing I wondered if my four months of purging and breaking, with my wild child had been the sum total of it all. Yet seven months later I clearly felt God telling me to return. And so with girded loins I went back (complete with body armour haha) ready for whatever God had in store for me. I chose to work with two boys. A nine year old and a thirteen year old. Both living separate existences of violence, defiance, hurt, confusion and untold behavioural and medical issues that were destroying their lives. I asked some friends to pray for us before I started working with them so I could get God’s heart for them. I was so grateful for these incredible prayers because they truly birthed God’s love in my heart for these precious little treasures. Before I even met them, as cheesy as it sounds both had already captured my heart.
I had read their reports and was aware of untold barriers that stood in the way of us connecting yet with the younger one who I saw first and my older boy who I saw in the afternoon it’s truly crazy how God gave me keys to unlock their hearts. Literally from the moment I met them God created a rapport that was so divine – beyond my understanding, beyond my capabilities or capacity to accomplish. And as I continue to work with them, the lives of these two young men are being tangibly touched on a daily basis by a God they don’t yet know. The favour that surrounds us as we hang out is unbelievable. Our sessions consist of going to museums, working on creative arts, chilling in the park playing Monopoly and eating ice cream or playing untold games of pool with my older boy, whilst munching on cheese burgers. Every session they demonstrate such honour and respect towards me, making sure they don’t swear or blaspheme, they try not to lose their temper and they are slowly integrating back into society in small steps as their defences come down and they begin to walk in freedom. It’s incredible to behold. Their behaviour when with me is completely contrary to everything that their paper work has labelled them with. They have been tamed by Love. It is truly nuts. And it’s all God.
Perhaps if this had happened eighteen months ago I may have been deceived into thinking it was because of my expertise, or my experience, or my behaviour management that my two boys were walking in such grace. I may have concluded it was because I was a good teacher even, or because I knew how to communicate with the yout dem. But you see in God’s grace I believe He allowed the season with my little fiesty princess so that I could learn to love on a new level, so that I could learn how to trust God more and so that I would be under no illusion about who was behind the transformation of these precious lives. I am so grateful for the experience as agonising as it may have been.
You see because of how extreme the pain of last year was, I can truly appreciate how tremendous the favour now is over this particular season. The overwhelming breaking during my previous assignment makes this time round far sweeter. Yet I am aware that in both seasons I have needed God desperately to guide my every moment. I do not for one minute take for granted that I have such a good time with my little men – for as much as the fun is, our sessions are moment by moment breakthroughs that span across so many struggles and deeply rooted issues - I can never take my eyes off the ball and I am constantly at God’s mercy to get through each hour, unable to do this job in my own strength or ability and needing Him desperately to navigate me through each step with my kids. I do believe that the pressing in and following through last year paved the way for the grace over this season. I am so grateful that this story didn’t end after the first chapter. I’m grateful that by His grace He did not let me give up and allowed me the time to heal before gently getting back in the zone. And that’s what speaks to me most about all this…the beauty of pushing through to get to the other side of a trial…not giving up…finishing well…lining up the breakthrough for seasons that are yet to come.
It causes me to consider areas of my life where I have perhaps given up before I have seen a manifestation of breakthrough, assuming that it was a battle I didn’t need to fight…or a place where coming out of my comfort zone was just too hard…too painful…too scary…too isolating. Wow, one area instantly comes to mind and even as I type this I am resolving to revisit this particular place of discomfort…because there is a huge victory sitting on the other side of the uneasiness I feel when I think of this unfinished assignment - as I ponder the road I have so far travelled down it's path and the journey that lies ahead if I am willing to press through to the other side of the assignment…and you know what – I think I am…I am absolutely willing to contend for the glory that lies on the other side of this incomplete fight…because this Fresh Start victory has reminded me that in God I have already won the battle - I just have to be willing to go to war...