*Hope Education Network, otherwise referred to as HEN, is a work focused on serving teens and young women in crisis as part of CLDI’s effort to seek the shalom of our community.
It has been awhile since I have last posted on my blog. Life has served up personal heartaches and yet through it all God was present. I thank Him daily for that and I have learned much on a personal and professional level. HEN moves on and as I mentor and walk with women involved with HEN I am constantly aware of God’s presence. His ability to whisper to my heart as I listen to yet another story of self-destruction, telling me to love and be patient. Reminding me that Jesus has loved me through all my ups and downs, mistakes and poor choices and I am forever grateful. As I spend time with these lovely young women building relationships, along with offering assistance and support while they fumble their way through a very messy and ugly life, one thread seems so common… between misplaced love on their part and/or a lack of love from the one’s they needed the most – they seem to yield poor choices which then equates to extreme heartache and a life spiraling out of control. Many have orchestrated their outcomes, many were innocent in their initial predicament and yet because of their subsequent choices have fallen into a life that no one would want.
My heart hurts for the women I serve. I have “God rants” where I ask God why it seems so hard to make a difference, what it is I am doing wrong, and what do I need to do to help “change” these girls???? Micah 6:8 tells us “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Good advice, so I walk humbly with my God beside these young women, hurt when they hurt, slowly prod them towards my Jesus ~ for many of them a Jesus they have never known, love them when they are unlovable, because He first loved me, pray unceasingly, and be willing to submit that I may not be the one to “change” them, I just get to prepare the soil. Admittedly, this is a hard place to rest for me as I want results, but then I need to remember to stay behind God, work in His timeline, let go of the control. He’s got this.
Heartaches by the number, these gals have them. Misplaced love in a man who uses them for sex, drugs, or whatever that may look like, misplaced love in, “if I just have a child – then I will have someone to love”. Another unknown, misplaced love in a lifestyle, a career, drugs, alcohol, government dependence, you get the picture… by misplacing your love and dependence on all things worldly you can count on heartaches and troubles. That is a guarantee. Most of these women who have innocently hung their love and self-worth on a guy, find themselves pregnant (big surprise), no boyfriend – he has moved on to a cutie who isn’t pregnant, no job, no training, possibly no high school education, no money, and alarmingly enough no housing. Whew, that’s overwhelming. Did I mention troubles? Well they have a few. Where to start, grace and forgiveness. Haven’t we all sinned and fallen short of God’s will? I know I have, so I start there, by professing to them that God loves them dearly right where they are at – warts and all then we start working to understand grace and forgiveness along with what a changed heart looks like. At times it is as if I am speaking Greek to them – they can’t fathom that at their core that God loves them.
This relationship is not easy, far from it. If they choose to lay aside their life and embrace God’s will and love are they washed clean by the blood of Christ? Absolutely! Is life automatically easier? No way! They still have to slowly climb out of the mud. For some that happens quickly, others not so much, others still, maybe never. Recovery from a life of poor choices is hard, tearful, frustrating, gut-wrenching, anger-filled, and includes a string of heartaches. Through it all, I remind them that God is bigger than all of this and He can handle it. Those who make the climb have earned my respect, I keep pushing on with those few as my heroes. As we wade through parenting plans, attorney fees, parenting classes, abusive ex-boyfriends, abusive parents, addiction, the list goes on, I earnestly try to bring them back to the cross, to lay it all there, do what we can in the span of a day and trust that God has this. From where they stand, not at all an easy thing to do. Again, I marvel at them. It truly is a daily struggle and almost every day a heartache attempts to undermine their attempts at getting well. We pray, a lot.
Not all ends badly though! Five young women have graduated with their GED’s in 2013-14 (not an easy thing to do when they dropped out in 9th grade), many are employed, have found suitable housing, are taking parenting classes and learning how to be a loving mother and in the midst of it all are a joy to be around. I am so blessed. I get baby-fixes, hugs, coffee dates and am able to love them all through the eyes of Jesus. It is good, He is faithful and I am grateful.
Lisa, HEN Director