Empty Hands, Open Heart
I have always loved Anne of Green Gables. Her red hair, her zest for life, her thirst for knowledge, her desire to be a great writer, and most of all, her flair for the dramatic. My favorite is probably when she was ‘in the depths of despair’ and asked the straight laced Marilla if she had ever been in the depths of despair. Until a few years ago, I thought I could empathize with someone about the depths of despair. Then we sat beside a tiny little coffin at the cemetery and I learned there was a deeper level than I had never known before.
I didn’t want to hear anything positive or encouraging. I didn’t want to hear about coming out victorious or seeing a purpose in it. I just wanted to hold our little girl but that was impossible. My arms were empty. My heart felt cold and dead except for the knife that occasionally twisted.
Today, I spent my day preparing a lesson for about 10-15 Jr. High girls for the small groups portion of youth group tonight. Three and a half years ago I would have laughed bitterly if you had told me I would be serving in this capacity anytime soon. And I probably would have told you that you were delusional. But here I am.
It began as a simple act of support for a niece who wanted to join youth group but didn’t know anyone. I agreed to volunteer for a bit until she became comfortable. Now, one year later, which has included one overnighter and a week of church camp, I’m not sure you could drag me away. I am not super close with any of the girls personally but they have all touched a special place in my heart and filled me with joy. I enjoy watching them grow. I like watching their faces light up when something clicks or they are sharing a story about their day. No one has replaced my daughter or made me forget her. Not at all. But my need to nurture, even for only an hour and a half a week in person, is being fed. I have told them they do more for me than they realize. Some of them know my story and some don’t. They don’t need to. They only need to know someone cares.