When I Want to be There for Them All.

I tell you this
to break your heart,
by which I mean only
that it break open and never close again
to the rest of the world.

-Mary Oliver

            There is a sadness I carry that can be difficult to put words to. Tears usually fall as I try to explain it to anyone who asks.  

            I hold the pain of women in my heart. God has called me to it. 

            When you involve yourself in a profession or place where people share their pain with you, an unresolved part of your heart begins to form. This unresolved place in my own heart is a seemingly endless abyss...it is this part of me that wants to listen to every young woman who exists...but my heart knows that it is an impossibility...

            I want to be there for them all.

            I want to stand with the one who is striving for a deep relationship with God, and giving her life as a teenager to ardent faith, leading her youth group, sometimes wondering if she is making any difference at all...I want to look her in the eyes on days of discouragement and tell her that God sees every moment, He sees her giving and loving and He whispers all day long...you are my beloved daughter, in you I am well pleased. 

            I want to stand with the ones who speak hate to themselves all day long. I want to hold the hands of the one who cries into the mirror, who sobs into her pillow, calling herself ugly, worthless into the air and tell her, remind her, of her worth in Christ...I want to stand next to her in that mirror and remember our worth and our beauty and our magnificence together...

            I want to hold the hand of the young woman with cuts on her arms, trying desperately to deal with pain by inflicting pain. I want to help her to see that pain does not help pain, that Jesus heals all. That Christ binds up our wounds and whatever it is she is going through, He is there in it...ready, waiting to meet her in her suffering...

            I want to listen to the girl whose parents are getting divorced, her family crumbling to the ground right before her eyes, holding it all in because she does not want to be a burden to anyone who passes by. And I want to sit at lunch with the girl who is hiding in the library, or the bathroom, or a classroom, feeling completely unwelcome and alone. I want to tell her, because I know she needs badly to hear someone say, "You can sit with me..." 

            My heart aches to do all these things and I struggle...I want every young woman to have a friend to speak to in hardship and in joy, to be there, and listen to her, and love her. I will never reach every one. It is frustrating and challenging and deeply saddening when I think of the young women who have never even been given the opportunity to be listened to, to feel deeply loved by a friend, or even to hear about Christ. 

            And so I reach out to them as the starfish being tossed back into the sea...one by one...I take their stories one by one and I keep them close as prayers in my heart. Our good God keeps my heart together as I look into the eyes of each one who shares with me. He keeps my eyes fixed on Him as I read the messages of women looking for answers, for acceptance, for someone to love them. He gives me the grace to hold their pain in my heart and hand their pain over to Him. I do not carry what they hand over to me in trust because I know I cannot carry it. Only He can carry it. 

            And as I reach out I recognize God growing this tree where one encouraged woman reaches out to encourage another woman, and branches are built and we grow stronger together by reaching out to one another. I pass on encouragement, and try to pass on light, and love, and grace...and hope that she who I do get to stand with will pass it on to the next who needs this light and love and grace and joy...women passing radiance to one another, creating a golden thread of light that connects us all, held together by the love of one another and by the embrace of our loving God.